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Motivated Mitchell gets revenge

How badly did Mitchell want to beat Ridgewood?

Badly enough to clip and save a Times article in December quoting the Rams' Tanner Wolfe saying his team would go undefeated.

Earlier this month, Hudson took care of the undefeated part by handing Ridgewood its first loss.

Host Mitchell prevented Ridgewood from clinching the Sunshine Athletic Conference title Monday with a 1-0 win that also avenged a 4-1 loss.

"They showed how bad they wanted it," Mustangs coach Pio Rizzo said of his players. "There was so much on the line tonight; conference, and they had given us our first loss. We've been eyeing this game for a while."

Ridgewood coach Ed McComiskey concurred, adding that the outcome might have been different had not the Rams hit two posts in the first half.

"We had our chances," McComiskey said. "I think (the Mustangs) were better prepared for the game, mentally and physically. They just wanted it a little more than we did."

Ridgewood (16-2-3, 10-2-2 SAC) has two conference games left and Mitchell (9-2-5, 9-1-5) has one.

Andrew Dematos' header off Jarrod Madonna's corner kick from the right side in the 67th minute was the lone score.

That play was set up by Ryan Villiard's hustle. Villiard raced to a loose ball, challenging Ridgewood goalkeeper Dave McNally at the top of the crease and the ball went out of bounds off McNally. Mitchell was awarded the corner kick and Dematos rewarded his team with his ninth goal.

"He's nonstop," Rizzo said of Villiard's hustle.

Ridgewood came within inches of leading 2-0 at the half, but Wolfe hit the right post on a free kick, with that shot deflecting off a wall of defenders in the box. In the 36th minute, Ridgewood's Chris Daly hit the right post off Richard Jata's throw-in.

When the post was not keeping the ball out of the Mitchell net, keeper Matt Wegener came up with several key stops. Among Wegener's 15 saves were a point-blank stop on Daly in the first half and a leap to his right to swat away a 6-foot-high blast by Jata from 40 feet out on a free kick.