Jericho’s frustration began building at halftime of Tuesday’s Nassau A2 boys soccer match at Bellmore JFK because they’d spent most of the first 40 minutes on attack had only a single goal to show for it.
It grew from there when the Cougars evened the score in the first minute after the break and through 30 more minutes of getting decent chances and scoring on none.
Ari Chananya opened the valve to let all of it out with just under nine minutes to play. He got his right foot on a centering pass from Jordan Miller on the right wing and beat diving goalkeeper Joe Balik to his right for the go-ahead score in what would become a 3-1 victory.
Less than three minutes after Vananya’s goal Kian Ghazvini found Miller with a clear path toward the goal from about 30 yards away. Miller dribbled in and put a shot into the lower left corner of the net. “[Miller] is in the middle of everything, he’s our engine,” Jericho coach Dani Braga said.
“Luckily I got my right side of my foot on the ball and put it in the back of the net. What a great feeling to put our team back up,” Chananya said. “It’s definitely very frustrating when you’re pushing the ball up the field and not [converting] any opportunities, especially when it’s a tie game and a game that we should be winning. But we finally put it to work once we got that one. We put in one more.”
The victory clinched the conference regular season title for Jericho (12-1-1, 8-0-1), it’s fourth in five years. It hardly seemed satisfying to the Jayhawks. They’ve been eliminated from the postseason in the second round four straight seasons. They’d like to get back to where they were at the start of the decade, when they captured state championships in 2011, 2012 and 2013.
“I don’t think there really is a ceiling for us, it’s only going to be us who beats us,” Miller said. “All of us have been playing together for years and we’ve been waiting for this season for years. I think before the season preseason we knew what we’re capable of, and it’s just a matter of putting it together now.”
The Jayhawks have a slew of skilled ballhandlers and passers and play together with great chemistry. Braga guided those three state title teams and sees this squad as equally capable of going far. “This team has all the abilities — from the back to the front — to make it happen,” he said.
Jericho went up in the game’s 11th minute when Anthony Cammisuli’s shot from the left wing caromed off the crossbar and right to Ari Kantorowitz in front where he put in the point-blank shot, his 23rd goal of this season. In the opening minute of the second half Bellmore JFK’s Ryan Cooke got out on a breakaway and found Brandon Sabillon who took the pass in and put it in the top of the net to tie it, 1-1.
Balik, who finished with 11 saves, made six in the next 30 minutes before Chananya scored. JFK (4-5-2, 3-4-2) needs a win in the season finale against Roslyn to make the playoffs.