Jericho advances to state Class A championship game
If any added pressure exists for the Jericho boys soccer team to capture a third straight Class A state championship, the Jayhawks seem to be thriving on it.
Senior forwards Andrew Greenblatt and Drew Shuman scored one goal apiece as Jericho beat Goshen Central, 2-0, Saturday at Middletown High School in a state semifinal.
"Our expectations were so high from the way our other teams had so much success," Greenblatt said. "So to an extent, I would say that a weight has been lifted a little bit. But we still have to go out there and perform [today]."
Jericho (14-4-3) will play Pittsford Mendon at 12:30 p.m. Sunday at Middletown High School for the state title. Before their match against Goshen Saturday, many of the Jayhawks arrived at the field early to watch Mendon advance.
"[Today's] game means everything," Greenblatt said. "Playing on the team last year with the guys who were a year older than me was amazing but now, to be here in my last year as a player and make it to the state final, is just unbelievable."
Greenblatt scored Jericho's first goal eight minutes into the second half off an assist from senior midfielder Michael Blumberg. For Greenblatt, a position change made earlier this season has paid dividends.
"I started playing in more of an attacking midfield position late in the season after a run of a couple of games at the wing," Greenblatt said. "It allows me to create a lot of space and I think me and Michael work well together."
After missing a couple of shots from close range, Shuman found the back of the net with a blast from the top of the 18 to put Jericho ahead 2-0 with 7:46 left.
"This was a tough team and we had to keep working and we started to wear them down," Shuman said. "I knew I had to capitalize when we needed it."
Jericho played exceptional team-defense throughout the match, holding Goshen to only four shots on goal. Senior goalkeeper Reed Ginsburg made four saves in the shutout. Any attempts by Goshen to get near the net were typically thwarted by senior sweeper Jack Roberts and senior defender Jake Zorfas.
"It's how we got here the past two years and it's how we advanced today," Zorfas said. "I pinched in when I needed but mostly we just communicated real well, which is one of our strong points."
For Jericho coach Dani Braga, it is his third state final appearance in his third season.
"Since the beginning of the year, our goal has been to get another state championship," Braga said. "And I honestly don't think anyone is going to be truly happy unless we win it tomorrow. But there's no pressure. We're just having fun and playing how we're capable of playing."