CROSS RIVER – The outlook was grim when John Jay opened the season with five consecutive losses, but the Indians responded with inspired play and went on a tear.
A hard dose of reality can be inspirational.
The idea of a rematch with an old rival kept John Jay rolling, and Tuesday’s resounding 12-5 win over Somers in a Section 1 Class B semifinal got the Indians a rematch with Yorktown with a championship on the line.
“For the seniors, it’s our last chance,” said Ryan Lee, who had three goals and two assists. “I haven’t won a game against them in my four years. There’s really nothing else we’ve been thinking about the whole year, and we’ll do whatever it takes.”
Yorktown and John Jay are scheduled to face off at 8 p.m. Thursday at White Plains.
The Huskers are seeded No. 1 and easily won the two regular-season meetings, but the defending state champion is no longer invincible.
“We need to play a flawless game against them,” said Matt Lupinacci, who had three goals and one assist for the Indians. “Knowing that Yorktown lost to Fox Lane gives us a little hope, but it’s been kind of crazy this year. Fox Lane lost to Mahopac in the playoffs, so you never know. Yorktown is a great team and we haven’t really done anything against them in the last few years, so we’ll give it our best shot.”
The Tuskers (8-11) had to sort through some issues, too, during the regular season, but came in as the No. 11 seed and promptly upended Byram Hills and Rye.
Somers had an early lead in this one, too.
Tyler Devito and A.J. Cartelli scored in the opening minutes after lengthy possessions, but Lupinacci and Lee found the back of the net for John Jay, knotting score before the first quarter horn sounded. Jackson Rieger kept the run going early in the second quarter and Hunter Keech scored in transition, giving the Indians a 4-2 lead.
It was 6-3 at halftime.
“We showed that we weren’t going to roll over in the playoffs,” said DeVito, who scored twice. “We started out hot, but John Jay did a good job pressing out on us and we couldn’t get the ball moving the way we wanted to.”
John Jay (12-7), the No. 7 seed, didn’t let up.
“We never felt that we were far away from getting to this point,” Lee said. “A lot of the younger kids are stepping up. Braden Burke, Thor Adamec and Shahe Katchadurian in goal, they’re all freshman and they’re all playing great for us. We’re also playing smarter and more like a team.”