Jordan-Matthews narrowly escapes NCSSM on the road in Sweet 16, will play in Elite 8 on Wednesday

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DURHAM — Jordan-Matthews tangled with a tough N.C. School of Science and Math team in a grueling overtime game before superior conditioning kicked in, propelling the Jets to a hard-fought 3-1 win on Monday night to advance to the Elite Eight of the NCHSAA 2A state soccer playoffs.

The No. 6 seed Jets (20-0-1) will take their 19-game winning streak to Snow Hill, where they’ll face No. 2 seed Greene Central High School (23-1) on Wednesday in Round 4. The game is being played a day earlier than originally scheduled to avoid the threat of rain on Thursday, and Jets coach Paul Cuadros said that leaves little time to prepare a strategy.

“I’ve been here many times,” Cuadros said. “You can learn some things about a team, but once you get to the venue and you see them then you can make some real determinations in terms of coaching. … They’re probably doing the same thing I’m doing today.”

Cuadros was thrilled with Monday’s third-round win over the No. 3 seeded Unicorns (15-2-1), though not just because his players knocked off a higher-ranked team.

“We’re an undefeated team and we’re ranked sixth,” Cuadros said. “We don’t know what to think of that. We proved last night that we were definitely the better team. I think defense won us the game. (Junior goalkeeper) Ricardo Rocha made some incredible saves to keep us in the game.

“It was a real hard-fought game,” he added. “They have very good size to them. Their boys were pretty big, pretty strong, pretty fast.

“The first half was definitely a toss-up between both teams,” he continued. “I think we had better chances to put one in the back of the net but we didn’t do so.”

That all changed with about 10 minutes left to play in the half. Brian Hernandez took a shot from outside of the box, but the Unicorns’ goalkeeper saved it. Then senior midfielder Irvin Campos took the rebound and buried it in the net to give the Jets a 1-0 lead.

“We fought a furious battle in the last few minutes” of the second half, Cuadros said, but NCSSM was able to knot the score 1-1 with time running out on a play similar to the one the Jets had scored on to send the game into two 10-minute overtime periods.

“I think we really just turned on the after burners and pretty much dominated (in the first overtime period),” Cuadros said. “I think our legs were just stronger. I think Science & Math ended up getting tired.”

Campos scored a second goal on the night to give the lead back to the Jets. Then senior midfielder Alexis Ibarra was able to get the third goal off of a cross to make it 3-1 in favor of J-M.

“After that goal, which was pretty spectacular,” Cuadros said, “we knew it was over.”

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