By TOM WILLIAMS
A lot was expected from the Ocean City High School girls soccer team this year. The Raiders were 15-6 in 2016, National Conference champions and reached the semifinals of the NJSIAA South Jersey Group 3 Tournament.
Then, in this year’s season opener at Shawnee, it looked like the season was in jeopardy.
Tori Rolls, the multi-talented and lightning-fast junior who had scored 28 goals in her first two seasons, leading the team both years, went down hard. She had broken her collarbone and would be lost for the season.
Kelly Halliday’s team had to re-think their season and re-group without their leading scorer.
With Rolls cheering them along from the sidelines, Ocean City won 12 of their first 13 games, losing just a 3-1 decision to Oakcrest. The loss to the Falcons would be the only conference loss while winning the Cape-Atlantic League National Conference title.
At Carey Stadium, the Raiders defeated Central, Gloucester Tech and Lacey in three shutouts to start the Group 3 Tournament. In the South Jersey final, also at Carey Stadium, OCHS tied Cherry Hill West, 0-0, after the overtimes. They won the school’s first South Jersey championship since 2000 when freshman Suzy Dietrich and sophomore Delaney Lappin kicked home the deciding goals in the penalty kick shootout.
The Raiders finished with 19 wins, tying the school record for most wins in a season. Freshman Faith Slimmer stepped up and scored 21 goals, sixth best in the Cape-Atlantic League and the second best by an OCHS freshman.
In addition to Slimmer and Dietrich, Ocean City got valuable minutes from freshmen Kelsey White and Paige Panico. Lappin is a sophomore and so is Abbey Fenton, who tied a school goalkeeper record for most shutouts in a season. Anna Devlin and Natalie Stinson are juniors.
The Raiders do lose Hannah Nathan and Haley Harper to graduation, but a healthy Rolls will be back next season to add still another weapon.
Ocean City had many very good teams in 2017.
The girls basketball, girls swimming, golf and girls cross country teams all won South Jersey championships. The boys soccer, boys cross country, baseball, girls lacrosse and boys lacrosse teams added CAL titles. The boys basketball team qualified for the CAL Tournament and the football team was back in the NJSIAA playoffs.
But Kelly Halliday and her girls overcame a critical injury and made history.
The girls soccer team is Ocean City High School’s Team of the Year for 2017.
Coming Tomorrow: The OCHS Athletes of the Year