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Jericho scores early and powers its way into state boys Class A soccer final

Rye's Michael Trayner, left and Jericho's Marcos Yang,

Rye's Michael Trayner, left and Jericho's Marcos Yang, right fight for the ball during the semifinals of the NYSPHSAA boys Soccer Championships in Middletown, NY on November 16, 2019. Credit: Allyse Pulliam /ALLYSE PULLIAM

MIDDLETOWN, N.Y. — When Jericho’s dynamic attack gets off to a fast start, that usually means a long day is in store for the opposition.

Rye learned that the hard way Saturday morning.

Jordan Miller scored two goals and Ari Kantorowitz had another to lead Jericho to a 3-0 win in a Class A state soccer semifinal at Middletown High School. The Jayhawks also got a strong performance at the other end of the field from goalkeeper Jake Levy and will take on Greece-Athena of Rochester in the state final Sunday at 12:30 p.m.

Jericho (19-1) wasted little time putting its stamp on the match, as Kantorowitz opened the scoring in the eighth minute and Miller doubled the lead minutes later.

“That's been our M.O. the whole season,” Miller said of the Jayhawks’ early offense. “When we start slow, it's always a tougher game. But when we score early, we score in bunches. It's what we do best.”

Kantorowitz said his mentality was to be aggressive in putting shots on target, and it did not take long for that to pay dividends, as his right-footed shot made the score 1-0.

“That really set the tone,” Kantorowitz said. “It changed their game and gave us confidence.”

Minutes later, Miller was the one putting the ball in the back of the net.

“I took a few guys on and I wanted to square it across but I saw the goalie cheat a little bit off his line to the far post,” he said. “And I just found the [near] post open and hit it hard there.”

With 5:22 left, Miller received a ball from Anthony Cammisuli and went back to the near post to put the match away.

“We used the field to our advantage and got the ball to the outside,” coach Dani Braga said. “They had to spread out, and when they did, it left Jordan and Ari a lot more open space.”

The effort upfront was combined with the type of strong defense Jericho has provided all season, as the Jayhawks have only allowed 13 goals this season. Levy was pivotal to this effort and continued his strong postseason by stopping all eight shots he faced.

Rye (21-2) has a reputation for being dangerous on long throws and set pieces, but Levy said the Jayhawks were prepared.

“It was great marking all around and the defenders did what they always do,” he said. “And two of our goals started on our end of the field, so it’s nice to be a part of a goal. When we score first, I don’t think anyone is stopping us."

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