MENDHAM _ Mendham's shutout loss to Ridge last week certainly was a game to forget.
The Minutemen lacked energy and their slick passing game and teamwork were missing.
On Monday, Oct. 2, Mendham returned to top form and blanked 11th-seeded Whippany Park 5-0 in Morris County Tournament first-round action.
Five players had goals for the sixth-seeded Minutemen, who notched their sixth shutout of the 2017 season. Mendham (6-2-1) raced out to a 3-0 lead in the opening half behind goals by Avery Smith, Grace Chapis and Megan McIntyre.
"That was an off day," said Mendham senior defender and tri-captain Sarah McHugh of the Ridge setback. "We had a little talk before today's game and we got in the zone."
"We didn't support each other in that game," said Avery Smith, a tri-captain and senior midfielder. "Today was much better. If someone made a mistake, we recovered."
Getting back on track was critical for the Minutemen, anxious to keep advancing and perhaps earn a berth in the MCT semifinals. Mendham will face the winner of third-seeded Madison, which defeated Butler in MCT quarterfinal-round play, in the quarterfinals.
"We really didn't play our best against Ridge," Minutemen coach Lori Welles said. "We weren't cohesive. It wasn't a good day for everyone to have a bad day."
Mendham was far from lackluster in its game versus the Wildcats. The offense was more fluid. Everyone was communicating. The defense, buoyed by McHugh, Madigan O'Donnell, Emma Marks and Kelly McIntyre, was unyielding, denying Whippany Park over and over again.
"We were all a it down on ourselves," O'Donnell said. "We had the idea of coming in here with a clean slate. We worked hard on Friday in practice. The seniors knew this could be our last county game."
Smith, a senior midfielder and four-year starter, gave the Minutemen a 1-0 edge, scoring off a corner 4:01 into the first half. Chapis converted a pass from Izzy Pampalone 13:22 later, boosting the lead to 2-0. Megan McIntyre, a freshman, struck next, knocking in a cross pass from Marks 9:38 before halftime.
In the second half, Mendham received goals off the sticks of Olivia Coleman and Emma Gugliemini. Chapis and Yasmin Mahyer had assists.
Having the goals come from so many different sources pleased Welles, who has employed the same starting lineup for the last five games.
"I like having a lot of scorers," she said. "Teams can't focus on one person. This lineup is getting to know each other. They're aware of where everyone is. Even with subs in, we're still very good. The seniors adjust to whoever's in."
Whippany Park goalie Hannah Klein, under pressure for the majority of the game, finished with 18 saves.
"We connected easily today," McHugh said. "We played really well and came back from a tough loss."
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