The champs surround Coach Jared Small (center) and Coach Jon Tuttle (right).
Rye High Boys’ Soccer
Garnets Sweep Summer League Playoffs for 2019 Title
By Mitch Silver
The Lakeland Summer League features many of the best returning scholastic players and teams from Westchester and Putnam counties. Rye High Head Coach Jared Small entered his group of players who are training for the upcoming fall season as a way to measure their development.
The result was, well, off the charts. The Garnets defeated John Jay-East Fishkill from Putnam County in the championship game Tuesday, July 23, by a 3-0 score.
Rye got there by going undefeated in the nine-game, round-robin schedule through June and July, a slate that included northern schools like John Jay and Carmel, as well as 2018 Class A State Finalist Somers and Class B State Finalist Briarcliff. The catch, though, was that unbeaten record included ties against the four best teams: Somers, Yorktown, John Jay, and Carmel. That placed Rye, seeded fourth, against the number five seed from Carmel, a team they’d played to a disappointing 2-2 draw at the end of June.
The locals once again scored a brace of goals, with left wingback Kevin Abbondanza and attacking center-midfielder Jake Creus connecting. Then goalkeeper Kai Haesselin and the defense in front of him shut out the Rams the rest of the way. The 2-0 win advanced the Garnets to the semifinals, where they met top-seeded Somers.
Here’s how Coach Small put it: “We did a nice job of attacking in multiple ways… from the flanks, through combination play in the middle of the field, and via the occasional long ball to stretch the opposing team and not allow them to defend in a compact manner. Jake Creus scored in the first half (assist from outside midfielder Nic Logan) and Jake then set up striker Michael Traynor on a fantastic set piece. We also got a huge save from Kai Haesslein to preserve the lead late in the match.”
The final was played just minutes after the Garnets’ semifinals concluded, giving an advantage to the Patriots, who’d stopped Yorktown 1-0 an hour earlier. Winded though they were, Rye’s players withstood a strong John Jay first half, and then put the wood to them in the final half hour.
Jake Creus put it this way: “In the locker room at halftime, we all realized the game was there for the taking. We were hungry, and we went out and did what we’d been talking about all summer.”
The coach picked up the thread. “Michael Traynor scored on a beautiful combination with Jake, and then Kevin Abbondanza converted a pass from Ata Arslan into the upper 90. That goal essentially put the stamp on the match for us. Jake added a third on an assist from center back Jonathan Mehrara. All three goals came in the second half after Jasper Nusbaum entered the match in goal in place of Kai Haesslein, who’d picked up a thigh injury.
“Two players really stood out: Connor Camacho put together a tough, lock-down performance at a center back. Arda Arslan was an animal at the center midfield position. Playing on his birthday (along with his twin Ata Arslan), he put together his best performances of the summer when it mattered most.
“Last but not least, Nic Logan was tremendous for us throughout the playoffs. He was a rock defensively and created a lot of key moments in the attacking third, including the first goal against Somers that wound up setting the tone for the night.”
In the final six games they played last month, the Garnets scored 24 goals and yielded just one. Now, if they can just keep that up when the leaves start to turn.