Jericho advances to Class A soccer championship game
MIDDLETOWN, N.Y. -- Jericho is back in the state finals.
The Jayhawks defeated Williamsville East 4-2 Saturday to advance to the state Class A boys soccer championship game for the second straight year.
The Jayhawks (19-1-1) will face Section I's Port Chester (19-1-2) Sunday at 10:30 a.m.
Jericho got two goals each from seniors Derek Medolla and Zach Cohen. Medolla scored the go-ahead goal off an assist from David Orr with 12:07 left in the game and now has seven goals in the postseason.
"It was a tough game," Medolla said. "We were able to put them away in the second half. I thought we outplayed them for the majority of the game. We were definitely the better team."
Cohen then capped the scoring with 5:30 left off an assist from Brian Lowenstein.
The first half was back and forth with both teams earning good shot opportunities. Medolla opened the scoring in the 20th minute with a goal from the top of the box off a cross from Drew Shuman. But the Flames roared back and scored twice in less than two minutes. Senior Brandon Schick scored both goals, the first coming on a breakaway with 7:16 left in the half; the second with 5:56 left on a free kick from 25 yards out. Jericho goalie Ari Lewis misjudged the ball and lost it in the sun.
"For a second we lost our concentration," Lewis said. "It can't happen again. We got the win, and that's all that matters."
It is the first time this year that Jericho allowed more than one goal in a game. Cohen tied it up with 4:08 left in the first half with a goal off a rebound.
"The story of the game was missed opportunities; we should've pulled away in the first half," Jericho coach Dani Braga said. "I let them have it in the locker room because of that. There were little mistakes that turned into big things. I think I made my point in the locker room and they knew what to do."
Coming out of halftime, Jericho senior Harrison Rieberman-marked Schick to limit his shot attempts.
"We decided to take Harrison out of the midfield and stick him on [Schick]," Braga said. "I can't say enough about Harrison; he takes outplayers left and right."
The Jayhawks dominated possession from there, barely allowing the Flames to get the ball on their side of the field. But more missed opportunities left Jericho a bit frustrated.
"We took a lot of shots that got deflected and the goalie made some great saves," Medolla said. "We were getting frustrated because we couldn't find the back of the net. Finally I found an opening and scored."
The Jayhawks will be going for their second straight state title on Sunday, something they have focused on all year.
"Our ultimate goal since August was to win the state championship," Braga said. "We're not gonna celebrate until we reach that goal. If we play the way we know how to play, we should be fine."