Wayne Valley Girls Soccer Scores On History!

For the first time in program history, Wayne Valley Girls Soccer won the Group 3 State Championship. They concluded their season with a nail-biting overtime 2-1 win over Princeton at Kean University on November 21st. 

The Indians scored early to kick things off in the second minute when senior Emily Jozak scored off a corner kick from senior Erin Clark. “[That score] just determined the whole game,” Jozak reflects. “We just knew we were in this game to win it.”

However, Princeton would not give the win up easily. They drove deep into the Wayne Valley defense, and in the thirteenth minute, the Tigers evened the game up when Sophia Lis took a shot from midrange. Valley’s decorated goalie, senior Astrid McGraw, nearly had the stop, but the ball came in hot and crossed the goal line. 

At halftime, the score was even at 1-1, and tension poured off the field. Both teams were playing a very physical game—they knew what was on the line. “I thought that during the first half, [Princeton] was beating us to a lot of balls, and we weren’t getting enough pressure,” Valley Head Coach Kathleen Sinram says. “[We needed] to make it more difficult for them to attack [in that second half].”

After giving up that first goal early, McGraw focused on the time still left in the game: “It’s always a setback, but one goal doesn’t mean anything, and it was only the first half. I had a whole other forty minutes to give to my career.”

“[McGraw’s] just tremendous, she’s confident, she’s aggressive,” Sinram asserts. “Today she made some big stops coming off her line. She’s been huge all year.”

The second half was a back-and-forth battle as both sides fought for the lead. Although the Indians threatened the Tiger defense several times, they weren’t able to knock one through to the back of the net. Regulation play ended with the tied 1-1 score; when the championship game went to overtime, it continued to be a defensive duel.

Then, with just under three minutes left in overtime, the Tigers made a mistake and the Valley girls capitalized. After another stop by the Valley defense, senior Juliana Vivino cleared the ball down the sideline. There was some miscommunication by the Princeton defense when the ball continued to trickle down the sidelines, but not roll out of bounds.

Seeing her opportunity, Jozak stepped on the gas to retrieve the ball, and drove toward the Tiger goal. She passed the ball into the box to senior Kelsey Ramos, who booted a blistering shot at the goal, but it hit the crossbar. The ball bounced back into play, and sophomore Izzy Rathjen found herself in the right place at the right time. When she got her foot on the ball, she deflected it into the back of the net for the game-winning and state championship-winning goal.

“I knew I had to get it,” says Rathjen. “When I saw the goalie come out, I knew I had to at least get there in case she missed it.”

As victory was clinched, the entire team stormed the field into a huge, joy-filled embrace. Smiles were everywhere and exuberant shouts flowed upward from the group. 

Coach Sinram was overjoyed, as she wanted “to send [the senior class] off by winning their last high school game.” After winning that sectional title in an electrifying overtime finish, she was able to do just that. 

WVGS has done the unimaginable this year. They beat Hills to snatch their first Passaic County Title since 2007; they dominated West Essex to claim their State Sectional Title plaque for the first time since 1999; they controlled their conference and won a title; now, they made program history with the title of State Champions.

This was only the second time Wayne Valley Girls Soccer has ever made it to the Group State Final game. Coach Sinram says, “It’s always our goal. We always want to keep playing… This was finally our year to win it!”

This record-breaking, history-making, unstoppable force of a team finished off with a record of 22 wins and only 3 losses. They will go down in school history as the greatest girls soccer team to ever play at Wayne Valley High School.