SARANAC LAKE - As a Division I squad in the newly-formed Northern Soccer League, the Saranac Lake boys soccer team will have a challenging schedule this season as it takes on all the biggest schools in Section VII.
Competing as a Class B team, the Red Storm will continue to face some of the top squads in the North Country, but gone are what could be considered easier games against smaller schools in the area.
With the soccer merger of the Champlain Valley and Mountain and Valley athletic conferences, Saranac Lake will play a 12-game slate, with two matches each against AuSable Valley, Beekmantown, Northeastern Clinton, Peru and Plattsburgh.
The Saranac Lake boys soccer team has 19 players on the team this year.
(Enterprise photo — Mike Lynch)
Saranac Lake brings a deep team into the season, and despite a tough schedule, head coach Bill Wilson said his players have high hopes for success.
"Our guys want to win a sectional title," Wilson said. "Looking around the gym, I don't think we have a banner for boys soccer.
"A sectional title may be out of our reach, but the kids want one and I'm with them," Wilson said. "With the schedule we have, our goal is to be in the middle of the pack come playoff time."
Wilson said speed and depth are two strong suits for the Red Storm this season. Saranac Lake takes on its Division I schedule with a 19-player roster that includes 11 returners from last year's squad and players who moved up from the junior varsity unit that posted a 10-3 record a season ago.
Seniors Rick Schmidt, Tyler Rondeau and Max Calderone are Red Storm tri-captains this season. Schmidt returns as the starting goalkeeper to lead the defense after being named a CVAC Division I all-star a year ago. Calderone will play on the Saranac Lake back line at sweeper and Rondeau returns to the front line at striker.
Other key returners include Nate Capone at forward, Jamaal Tuthill at midfield, and Jack Rockefeller and Jesse Ettinger on defense. A speedy newcomer to the team is junior Alex Beaudoin, a player who Wilson said should make an instant impact at whatever position he winds up in.
Saranac Lake has struggled in soccer during recent seasons, including last year's campaign that saw the Red Storm finish with a 2-11-1 record. But Wilson said that numbers are strong from the modified through the varsity programs. and players are getting more competitive. He said that is a reason for optimism for the upcoming and future seasons.
"We had a total of 22 kids from our junior varsity and varsity teams playing summer soccer," Wilson said. "I really think you'll start seeing a big soccer turn around at Saranac Lake. This is my fifth season with the varsity, I was with the junior varsity for five years before that, and I think this is the most talented team I've seen at the school.
"What's even better, there are no bad seeds in the group," Wilson continued. "We have a great group of kids this season, and their determination is strong. This is a confident bunch. If we can knock off some of the powerhouse teams this year, we'll be even more confident."