Here are some of memorable moments of the 2008 girls' soccer season:
While the Olympic American is annually one of the best divisions and was so again with Lenape leading the way, the Olympic National had the most teams finish in The Inquirer's top 10 - three. State Non-Public champion Bishop Eustace (No. 2) won the National Division for the ninth straight year, just edging South Jersey Group 3 champion Seneca (No. 3) and South Jersey Non-Public A semifinalist Paul VI (No. 6).
Lenape had to beat Cherokee four times en route to a 25-0 record. The Indians beat Cherokee, 3-2 and 3-0, in the regular season; 2-0 in the South Jersey Coaches Tournament and 1-0 in the South Jersey Group 4 semifinal.
Triton qualified for the state tournament for the 24th consecutive year. The first 22 came under coach Bob Mannino, and the last two have come under former Triton standout Holly O'Donnell. The Mustangs were 7-7 on Oct. 24, the date when teams needed a record of .500 or better to qualify. A big win came Oct. 10 when Triton beat Egg Harbor Township, 1-0, on a goal by Chelsea Bader.
Breaking a streak
Haddonfield coach Glenn Gess entered his fifth season having never lost a Colonial Conference game. That streak was broken by West Deptford not once but twice. The Eagles beat Haddonfield, 1-0 and 3-1. Still, Haddonfield shared the Colonial Conference Liberty Division title with West Deptford because the Eagles also had two Colonial defeats, to Gateway and Haddon Heights. The Haddonfield-West Deptford rivalry has been among the best in South Jersey, and with both teams having young lineups, it should continue this way for the foreseeable future.
An even winner
Bishop Eustace won the Non-Public B state championship, continuing a recent trend of winning in even numbered years. The Crusaders also won in 2002, 2004 and 2006.
Making her goals count
Bishop Eustace freshman Brittany Stone had three goals, all in games that the Crusaders won by 1-0. She scored in an opening overtime win over Cherry Hill West, a victory on Oct. 23 against Shawnee, and ended the season with the lone goal in Eustace's overtime win over Villa Walsh Academy in the state championship.
Palmyra senior Chelsea Grace suffered an ACL injury during the 2007 state tournament. Grace came back this season and didn't miss a beat, scoring 27 goals to rank third in South Jersey. She finished with 78 career goals and is the school's all-time leader in that category, including boys.
Gloucester Catholic and Moorestown have developed a nice rivalry, and they played a competitive game Sept. 29. Gloucester Catholic won, 2-1, in a game in which both teams played at a frenetic pace, and each had ample scoring chances. Moorestown took a 1-0 lead on a goal by Jenna Hildebrand, but Gloucester Catholic earned two goals late in the second half. Jenna Alvardo scored off an assist from Chelsea Duffy and then Duffy scored with eight minutes left. The outcome wasn't decided until Moorestown shot wide from close range with fewer than 10 seconds left. Less than a month later, Moorestown returned the favor with a 4-3 win over the Rams in a South Jersey Coaches Tournament semifinal.
Lenape freshman Katie Rigby led the Group 4 state champions in scoring with 13 goals. While she clearly benefited from playing with a veteran Lenape team, Rigby forced defenses to pay attention to her by scoring a series of huge goals, none bigger than the game-winning goal in a 2-1 state semifinal win over Brick Memorial.
Paul VI forward Brittany Ratcliffe (nine goals, five assists) and defender Loren Reilley were also among the top freshmen in South Jersey.
Quite an improvement
After going 5-14 and failing to win a game in the CapeAtlantic American Conference Division I, Egg Harbor Township really took off this season under first-year coach Tory Marcus. The Eagles went 13-5-2 and shared the division title with Millville.
Egg Harbor Township junior Katie Lindacher scored a team-high 26 goals. With much of their nucleus returning, the Eagles will be a program to watch next season.