Cinderella Mendham Boys Soccer Falls After 'Amazing' Response
Team's improbable run comes to an end in Group III semifinals, as community rallied around squad according to coach.
Mendham boys soccer team faced a tall task when it faced unbeaten, Star-Ledger No. 2 ranked Ramapo High School in the Group III boys soccer semifinals on Wednesday night. Mendham, a true fairytale story in the postseason, had to have a little magic to keep the streak alive. Unfortunately for the Minutemen, that magical run came to an end, falling 5-0 according to NJ.com.
The Mendham boys soccer team might be the best story of the season. Coming into the playoffs with a 1-10-2 record and seeded 17th in North 2, Group III, the Minutemen did not have a spot in the 16 team postseason field. But a little magic came there way when Colonia chose not to participate in the playoffs and Mendham snuck in as the 16th seed.
“I knew my team was decent,” said first-year varsity coach Russ Ruffay. “Of our 10 losses, five had been by only one goal. Through it all, we stayed positive.”
The path they took was the hardest possible: the 16th seed started with the number one seed, Gov. Livingston, a 15-5-1 juggernaut. But they fell in overtime 3-2, and Cinderella moved on.
They followed that with a 2-0 shutout of 8th seed Plainfield and a 2-1 victory over 12th seed Morristown. And then they went to the bottom of the bracket for the sectional title against Parsippany Hills, another 15-5-3 powerhouse, their next opponent. On Nov. 19, Mendham would win its seventh of eight games and fifth straight with a 2-1 victory and the state sectional title.
Outside the tournament just 10 days before, Mendham was now the sectional champion.
“The response has been amazing,” said Raffay. “I’ve received a lot calls and emails of support and congratulations from former players, alumni and supporters since we started the run.”
And just to give Group III a warning for 2013, the Minutemen will return eight starters for next year’s team.