Most people predicted top-seeded Scotch Plains to face second-seeded Westfield in the 32nd annual girls’ soccer Union County Tournament championship game, scheduled to be played later this weekend at a site and time still to be determined.
However, Cranford and Summit did their best to prevent that.
Both came oh so close to knocking off the top two seeds before falling late.
In Saturday night’s semifinals at Johnson’s Nolan Field in Clark, sixth-seeded Summit fell to second-seeded Westfield 3-2, with the Blue Devils scoring the winning goal with four minutes remaining.
Then Scotch Plains managed to score in double overtime right before the match was to go to a shootout in posting a come-from-behind 2-1 win over fourth-seeded Cranford.
So now it will be arch rivals Scotch Plains vs. Westfield for the championship for the fifth time the in the past seven years.
Two-time defending champion Scotch Plains defeated Westfield in the final the past two years. The Raiders have now reached the title game for the eighth straight year, winning the UCT for the first time in 2005.
Scotch Plains has won the UCT or shared the crown every year since 2005 except for 2009 when the Raiders were defeated by Cranford 1-0 in the final at Johnson. The Raiders have won five UCT titles, outright in 2005, 2007, 2008 2010 and 2011 and shared with Westfield in 2006.
There is no penalty kick shootout in the final. If the game is tied after 100 minutes of play – 80 minutes of regulation and two 10-minute sudden death overtime periods – then co-champions are declared.
Westfield’s last two of its record 18 UCT titles were shared with Scotch Plains in 2006 and Oak Knoll in 2002. The Blue Devils last won the title outright in 2001.
UCT GIRLS’ SOCCER CHAMPIONSHIP SCORES SINCE 1997:
2011: Scotch Plains 1, Westfield 0
2010: Scotch Plains 2, Westfield 0
2009: Cranford 1, Scotch Plains 0
2008: Scotch Plains 3, Johnson 0
2007: Scotch Plains 1, Westfield 0
2006: Scotch Plains 1, Westfield 1 – co-champs
2005: Scotch Plains 1, Oak Knoll 0 – SP’s first title
2004: Gov. Livingston 1, Cranford 0 – GL’s first title
2003: Oak Knoll 5, Gov. Livingston 0
2002: Westfield 0, Oak Knoll 0 – co-champs, Oak Knoll’s first title
2001: Westfield 2, New Providence 0
2000: Cranford 3, Union Catholic 1 – Cranford’s first title
1999: Union Catholic 4, Cranford 1
1998: Union Catholic 1, Cranford 0
1997: Union Catholic 2, Scotch Plains 0
Westfield won every year from 1981-1992 – its first 12 titles – and
from 1994-1996 – its next three. The Blue Devils have won 18 titles
total, including 16 outright and their last two shared.
Union Catholic won the first of its four titles in 1993.
Westfield defeated Johnson 2-1 in the 1994 final.
Westfield: 18, 2 of them shared.
Scotch Plains: 5, 1 of them shared.
Union Catholic: 4.
Oak Knoll: 2, 1 of them shared.
Gov. Livingston: 1.