The Madison High School boys soccer team's season ended on Monday in a 2-0 North 2, Group II state semifinal loss to Bernards High School in Bernardsville.
On a bitterly cold and rainy day, Madison came out hot in the first half, controlling possession and limiting the Bernards offense.
But even with Madison controlling the ball, an inability to locate quality scoring opportunities led to a 0-0 tie at halftime.
The only time all game that Madison didn't look complete on Monday came early in the second half.
The Dodgers came into the half flat and Bernards jumped at the opportunity as Nick Butler and Jose Chavez both found the back of the net in the first five minutes of the half.
"I think the first half especially, we were very disciplined and we did exactly what we set out to do," Madison head coach Gary Adair said after the game. "Coming out of halftime you're thinking, 'if we can keep this discipline and keep pushing forward then maybe we can nick a goal and keep it tight.' But you can't legislate for the five minutes we had at the beginning of the second half."
Despite those two quick goals from Bernards, Madison refused to quit.
Even losing by two goals, Madison exerted consistent pressure, a trait that this team struggled with early in the season.
"We learned (throughout the season) as a team, as a group, as people, not to give up after the first goal," senior captain Jorge Hoyos said. "That's one thing we did well, we didn't give up. We kept trying and trying, but it just wasn't our game."
But the Dodger pressure wasn't enough as Madison failed to solve Bernards goalie Sam Polito, who corralled all seven Dodgers chances.
"We had a good run but in this game we didn't have a lot of chances and when we did, we didn't take advantage of them," Hoyos said. "I'm not saying that we played bad or anything, it's just that today wasn't our day."
Adair expressed his satisfaction with his team's constant pressure, despite sitting in a two-goal hole.
"To come back after the two goals and to keep battling, keep fighting and get chances, I think it showed a lot of guts and I'm very impressed with that and very proud as well," he said.
Even after seeing the Dodgers' season end, Adair believes there are some positives going forward as Madison will see nine of its 11 starters from this season return in 2011.
"You've got a young team," Adair said. "You've got two seniors starting and everyone else is younger. I didn't expect them to win 12 games so you know it's definitely put us in a good position for next year."