John Jay High School played Monroe-Woodbury on Wednesday in Freedom Plains.
The high school boys soccer teams from John Jay and Rhinebeck are both playing for a spot in the state final four.
Different factors helped them both get there.
John Jay survived the gauntlet of a tournament that is Section 1 Class AA, outlasting every other team with signature wins over Fox Lane and Mamaroneck in the semifinal and final, respectively. This came after a mediocre close to the regular season that saw the Patriots win only one of their last four games.
Losing helped, John Jay coach Rob Seipp said.
“I think sometimes when you lose late in the season, it refocuses you as a coach and it refocuses the group,” said Seipp, whose 16-4-1 Patriots face Section 4 champion Ithaca Saturday in a state regional final at 11 a.m. at Arlington. “The guys came to practice with renewed determination. As a coach, that’s always a positive sign. You might have players who are a little too overconfident and teams that are so incredibly hungry.
“In a weird sort of way, two losses and a tie really sort of refocused us.”
After his team qualified for a regional final for a third straight year, Rhinebeck coach Justin Wiesenthal reflected back on his past Hawks squads, which set the stage for the group that will take the field at 6 p.m. Saturday against Section 11 champion Southold at Diamond in the Pines in Coram, Suffolk County.
“This season, there’s just a core of guys who are just nice guys,” Wiesenthal said. “In training sessions and on the bus, everyone gets along and everyone hangs out. They’re nice guys to be around. They’re focused and they work hard. They all get it.
“That’s really a credit to our teams in the past with guys like Ben Hoynes and Ryan O’Han and Reed Fox and Seth McClenahan and Nick Hoynes. They taught a lot of these guys what Rhinebeck soccer is all about.”
Asked if the opportunity facing the Patriots Saturday had sunk in with his players, Seipp, who won a state title as John Jay coach in 2000, admitted, “I don’t know if it’s sunk in with me yet!”
John Jay lost twice in the regular season to Arlington, which won sectional and state titles in 2012 and a sectional title in 2013. On Tuesday, John Jay beat Section 9 champion Monroe-Woodbury 4-0 for the second time this season behind strong defense, a pair of goals from Kevin Turi (who was the overtime hero in the sectional final win over Mamaroneck) and a goal each by Nik Angyal and Nick Liccardi.
\”Our season was a little frustrating because we couldn’t get by Arlington,” Seipp said. “Our section is so strong and the little things are really the difference between winning and losing.”
One thing Wiesenthal likes about his team this time of year is that there isn’t that one superstar. Sometimes it’s been Eric Rodriguez or Ian Katomski or Andy Rosenzweig or Aidan McKibbin-Vaughn. In Tuesday’s 3-0 win over Solomon Schechter, it was Laurence Graziano with three goals.
“The great thing about our team is any given day, it’s another hero on the team,” Wiesenthal said. “It moves around and everyone contributes to what’s best on the team. No one cares about individual statistics.
“I can’t guarantee anything. Who knows if we make it past the regional round? It’s certainly been a fun ride so far.”
Boys soccer regional finals
John Jay Patriots (16-4-1) vs. Ithaca Little Red (13-3)
What: Class AA regional final
When: Saturday, 11:30 a.m.
Where: Arlington High School, Freedom Plains
What’s the story?: Section 1 champion John Jay, which last won a state title in 2000, defeated Section 9 champion Monroe-Woodbury 4-0 on Wednesday behind two goals from Kevin Turi and a goal apiece from Nik Angyal and Nick Liccardi.
Ithaca won its second straight Section 4 Class AA title on Nov. 1 with a 1-0 overtime win over Corning with Phyo Htet scoring the golden goal in Oneonta. Ithaca lost to Arlington 1-0 in a state regional semifinal in Oneonta in 2013.
What’s next?: The winner advances to a state semifinal at 4:15 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 15 at Middletown’s Faller Field against the winner of Saturday’s 5 p.m. game between Section 5 champion Fairport and Section 6 champion Orchard Park. The state championship game will be played at 1 p.m. on Nov. 16 at Faller Field’s grass field.
Rhinebeck Hawks (17-1) vs. Southold Settlers (12-5)
What: Class C regional final
When: Saturday, 6 p.m.
Where: Diamond in the Pines, Coram, Suffolk County
What’s the story?: Section 9 champion Rhinebeck advanced to a state regional final for a third straight season Wednesday with a 3-0 win over Section 1 champion Solomon Schechter in Middletown. Laurence Graziano scored three goals for the Hawks. Rhinebeck has advanced, but fallen, in this round in each of the last two seasons, losing to Carle Place in 2013 and to Port Jefferson in 2012.
Southold won the Section 11 title, beating Pierson/Bridgehampton 1-0 in overtime on Tuesday. Sean Moran had the Settlers’ game-winner with 42 seconds left in overtime. Southold did not play in a regional semifinal since there are no Class C teams in Section 8 (Nassau County).
What’s next?: The winner advances to a Class C semifinal at 8:45 a.m Saturday, Nov. 15 at Middletown’s Faller Field against the winner of Saturday’s 11:15 a.m. game between Section 3 champion Immaculate Heart Central and Section 4 champion Lansing. The state championship game will be played at 12:30 p.m. on Nov. 16 at Faller Field’s turf field.
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Kevin Turi, John Jay boys soccer: Turi was the man of the hour in John Jay’s 2-1 overtime win over Mamaroneck in the Section 1 Class AA final, netting the winner in Freedom Plains and also scored twice in John Jay’s 4-0 win over Monroe-Woodbury in a Class AA regional final on Wednesday in Freedom Plains.
Laurence Graziano, Rhinebeck boys soccer: Returning from a sprained ankle that took him out for most of the Section 9 Class C semifinal and all of the final, Graziano scored three goals in Section 9 champion Rhinebeck’s 3-0 win over Section 1 champion Solomon Schechter in a regional semifinal on Wednesday in Middletown.
Marina Martin, Haldane girls soccer: Martin scored four goals for the Section 1 champion Blue Devils, who advanced to a state semifinal with a 6-3 win over Section 9 champion Rhinebeck in Tuesday’s Class C regional final in Freedom Plains.
Soccer Corner appears every Friday in the Poughkeepsie Journal, breaking down the boys and girls scholastic soccer scene. Phil Strum: email@example.com, 845-437-4847, Twitter: @PJStrum