SOMERSET - The North Star Cougars had one goal entering the season - claiming a District 5 boys soccer title.
The Cougars did just that Thursday with a 2-0 shutout over top-seeded Chestnut Ridge at Somerset Athletic Field.
"My hat goes off to North Star. They played hard and very fast," first-year Ridge coach Dave Van Meter said. "They beat us to the ball a fair amount, but it went back and forth. For anyone who was here, the score doesn't really reflect the game."
North Star will host the District 3 number two seed on Tuesday at Somerset. The Cougars last title was in 2010, when this class of seniors were freshmen.
"It's an amazing feeling," Somerset coach Chad Duryea said. "I'm so proud of these guys. Their work ethic all year long and for years for several of them has been tremendous. They truly deserved to win this championship. Austin Swihura, Brandon Steele, Preston Miller, Jake Scrimager and Corey Fritch all played in that last championship game. Their experience helped lead us to victory tonight. I know from the look in their eyes that this meant everything to them."
The Lions were making their third title appearances in four years, including a loss to North Star in 2010.
The second-seeded Cougars (18-3) held possession much of the first half but the Lions defense, which allowed just five goals all season, held firm.
North Star finally opened the scoring with 4:10 left in the first half. Austin Swihura capitalized on a set play off a direct kick and knocked home a goal off goalie Jake Miksich.
"They were pretty impressive defensively," Swihura said. "We knew we needed to get up on them early. It was super important to score first, because you have to score to win."
The Cougars added to their lead early in the second half when Preston Miller tapped home a rebound that Miksich bobbled.
North Star maintained pressure throughout the final frame. Miller and Swihura each had a chance to add to the lead.
North Star outscored its opponents, 88-14, entering the contest. The Cougars recorded their ninth shutout of the season.
"I talked to our guys all season about attacking at different angles," Duryea said. "Whether it was a set piece or from the inside-out, our guys were very diverse in their attack. But, I also think that Kyle Louthan getting another shutout in the District 5 championship game is tremendous."
Chestnut Ridge finished the season 18-2. Five seniors ended their careers - Dillon Hudson, Matt Miksich, Kyler Lesh, Dakota Taylor and Matt Claycomb.
"We played hard," Van Meter said. "We came out and did what did all year. As far as I'm concerned, we are walking out of this place with a lot of pride. We have nothing to hang our heads about. Hopefully we get back here next year and bring it home."
SCORE BY HALVES
North Star1 1-2
Chestnut Ridge0 0-0
First half: 1, NS-Swihura (Scrimager), 4:10.
Second half: 1, NS-Miller (Swihura), 31:46.