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Banyai resigns as RHS girls soccer coach

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After nine seasons, Robb Banyai has resigned as head coach of the RHS girls soccer team. – Scott Mullin photo

Robb Banyai, who helped the Ridgefield High girls soccer team become a post-season fixture, has resigned as head coach following nine seasons at the helm.

“Robb has been a great coach who has brought much success to the RHS girls soccer program,” said Ridgefield High Athletic Director Carl Charles. “We are grateful for his hard work and commitment and we wish him the best in his future pursuits.”

“I have enjoyed my time at Ridgefield, and wish the school and the team nothing but the best as they move forward,” said Banyai, in a prepared statement. “I leave behind many fantastic memories, many rewarding friendships, and an experience that I will cherish for a lifetime. I close this chapter of my coaching career and my life, and I look forward to the challenges that await me as I move forward.”

Ridgefield qualified for the state tournament in each of Banyai’s nine seasons as head coach. In four straight seasons (2008-2011), the Tigers advanced to either the Class LL semifinals or quarterfinals.

The two semifinal appearances came in back-to-back seasons (2008-09), when Ridgefield lost by one goal to the eventual state champions, falling 1-0 to Trumbull in 2008 and 2-1 to Westhill in 2009.

The Tigers lost in the Class LL quarterfinals in 2010 and 2011.

Ridgefield also won three FCIAC Central Division titles (2007, 2009, 2012) during Banyai’s tenure. The Tigers reached the conference finals in 2009, tying New Canaan in the championship game and being named co-champions.

Last fall, Ridgefield went 11-2-3 during the regular season, and then rallied from a 3-1 deficit to defeat Wilton in the FCIAC quarterfinals. The Tigers fell to St. Joseph, 3-1, in the conference semifinals, and then were upset by Darien, 2-1, on penalty kicks in the opening round of the Class LL state tournament, finishing the season with a 12-4-3 record.

Even with the numerous post-season appearances, some observers, fairly or unfairly, felt Ridgefield could have done more. The conference co-champion finish in 2009 was the Tigers’ only post-season title under Banyai.

“Robb was a good coach and knew the game well, but people always wondered why Ridgefield teams seemed to fall short while other nearby towns like Trumbull, Wilton. New Canaan and Greenwich were winning titles,” said a former RHS player, who asked not to be named. “That might nor have been fair to Robb, but it’s what people wondered about.”

Based on his track record, Banyai, whose RHS teams won more than 100 games in his nine seasons, may soon be back coaching at the high school level. One source said that Banyai was among the early applicants to become the new head coach at Wilton, following the non-renewal of Megan Rodriguez’s contract there.

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