Jericho ties another championship to its streak

Jericho's Noah Zeiff, left, and Jake Zorfas walk Jericho's Noah Zeiff, left, and Jake Zorfas walk off the field together following the Class A final. (Nov. 17, 2013) Photo Credit: Adrian Kraus

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MIDDLETOWN, N.Y. - The Jericho boys soccer team achieved its season-long goal of winning a third straight state championship on Sunday. It just didn't happen the way they had envisioned.

Jericho and Pittsford Mendon were named Class A state co-champions after a scoreless match, which included two overtime periods, at Middletown High School's Faller Field.

"Throughout the playoffs, we always ended up on the winning side," captain Michael Blumberg said. "To see it all end on a tie, without us running into the crowd all crazy . . . it is unfulfilling."

The outcome of the match was not decided in a shootout, state officials said, because there was no need for a team to advance to another round.

Dani Braga, in his third year as coach, is credited with guiding his team to a third straight state championship. By the look of Blumberg and his teammates, however, it was clear that the Jayhawks would have preferred the title all to themselves.

"These are my best friends and I've been playing with them my whole life," said Blumberg, who was clearly distraught with tears, much like many of his comrades. "It's not fun to see it end, especially like this, but what are you going to do."

The tie was a testament to the evenly played match. Both defenses thwarted several scoring opportunities toward the end of regulation and in both overtime periods. Reed Ginsburg racked up 12 saves for Jericho (14-4-4).

"I mean, we got the title, technically, and it was a great game and a hard fight," Ginsburg said. "It's a little bittersweet, though, because the whole team wanted a win."

Ginsburg shined in the net several times. With 2:30 left in regulation, he leaped high to stop a shot on a corner kick. With 20 seconds left in the first golden-goal overtime period, Ginsburg made another spectacular save when he ranged to his left on a shot from point-blank range. Ginsburg again prevented Mendon from winning in the second overtime when he made a diving stop to his left.

"I'm happy with the way I played and the plays I had to make," Ginsburg said. "But I think our team is a little upset over the fact we tied. It's a weird mix of feelings that I can't really explain."

Blumberg also had trouble describing his emotions after the match as he gathered his uniform and gear for the last time as a Jayhawk.

"We wanted to be state champions by ourselves, but we'll take it," Blumberg said. "Right now, it's a little hard for it to end this way, but it'll feel better tomorrow."

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