Despite a frantic finish, a three goal lead in the first half was enough to help the Warriors clinch a district title.
A hard fought game ended in West Orange High's favor, as the Warriors used a big, three goal first half to will themselves to a 3-2 win over East Ridge in the Class 7A, District 5 championship game.
Right out of the gate the the Knights (16-3-1) seemed to be in a solid groove by winning possession and getting shots on goal, but then junior midfielder Marco Perez struck from distance when his free kick from a mile out took a funny bounce in front of the East Ridge goalie to give the Warriors (11-1-3) the lead with 22:27 left to play in the first half.
Just as the Warriors had gotten comfortable, the Knights struck right back when Juan Ramos collected a rebound and blasted a ball into the back of the net to knot the game up at 1-1 with 19:10 left in the half.
Over the next 19 minutes both teams would battle back-and-forth, before senior defensive midfielder Amin Ferreira took over the game and broke through the Knights' backline on two separate occasions — the first of which was a header that came off a free kick with 7:11 left in the half, and the second coming with just 1:19 remaining — to give the Warriors a 3-1 lead going into the break.
After halftime the Warriors and Knights continued an exchange of blows, but it was East Ridge who finally found the back of the net when Randie Hernandez scored off of the corner kick to bring the Knights to within a goal with 22:58 left in the game.
The remaining 22 minutes of the game would descend into chaos as both teams had scoring opportunities on goal, but nothing would land for either as the Warriors held off the Knights' late, frantic rally to pick up the 3-2 win.
The Warriors — who's win clinched a spot in the postseason — will wait to see who they'll play in the FHSAA 7A state tournament.