CLIFFSIDE PARK, NJ - It was only about 10 seconds or so, but it turned out that it was all that would take to end Madison's boys soccer season.
The Dodgers' defense and goal keeper Sean Haughey kept the potent Cliffside Park offense at bay for most of the game, but it was just one kick off the foot of Red Raiders' Orlando Neto that went by Haughey for a 1-0 Cliffside Park lead with less than three minutes in the first half.
"It was just one mental lapse," said Madison head coach Frank Nunez after the game.
After that, Madison could not get the equalizer. Their top striker, Anton Benedikt, could not get open to enable him to have that one kick shot by Cliffside Park keeper Edgar Argueta that Madison so desperately needed. "He (Benedikt) is the best player on the pitch and they did a good job of stopping him," said Nunez.
The lone goal in the first half wound up being the only goal of the game on Monday as the Dodgers' season ended after losing 1-0 in Cliffside Park.
If 13th-seeded Madison had defeated fifth-seeded Cliffside Park, it would have been their second straight upset. The Dodgers stunned fourth-seeded Leonia, 2-0, in the first round of Group 2 North 2 state sectional. "We are not a 13th seeded team," said Nunez, about the state power points system that does not emphasize the tough schedule that teams like Madison play.
The loss to the Red Raiders ended another quality season for the Madison boys soccer team. "We lost to the team that will go on and win the state sectional championship," said Nunez. "It seems that we always lose to the team that goes on and win a title."
Last season, Madison lost to Bernards in the Group 2 North 2 state sectional final and also lost to Roxbury in the Morris County Tournament this season. Roxbury would go on to claim the MCT title.
For 2012, the Dodgers finished with a 9-6-4 record and came in second in the conference. "I have a lot of great kids and I would not trade them for the world," said Nunez.
Nunez admitted that his team came out to start the game enamored with their opponent. "We came in thinking too much about playing a team with the name Cliffside Park," said Nunez.
But after a halftime pep talk, the Dodgers got into their game plan and had their best chances in the first 20 minutes of the second half including a couple of corner kicks with Madison's Schuyler Fuchsman and Santino Martirano getting quality chances, but coming up empty.
"We want to play our possession and attack style," said Nunez. "I think we responded in the second half."
Despite the loss, the Madison defense did a very good job on a Cliffside Park team that was potent offense. "We did not want to lose sight of 13 (Neto) and 21 (Gabriel Donato)," said Nunez, about his backfield that included Conor Dark, Alec Waksman, Matt DiRuggiero and Raz Leshem.