LAKE PLACID - The Lake Placid boys soccer team survived playing down a man, and also minus two injured starters for a majority of the first half of Thursday's match against Willsboro. But the task proved to be too big of an undertaking for the Blue Bombers after intermission.
Taking advantage of having one more player on the pitch for 65 minutes, the Warriors broke open a 1-1 deadlock with three second-half goals to claim a 4-1 victory over Lake Placid.
Playing their last regular season game at home and looking to sweep Willsboro in their two meetings on the schedule, the Blue Bombers jumped out to a 1-0 lead just 2:22 into the match on a goal by Ryan Meyer.
Surrounded by Willsboro opponents, Lake Placid’s Haile Thompson leaps for a head ball during the opening half of Thursday’s game at the North Elba Athletic Fields.
(Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)
But fortunes quickly began to turn Willsboro's way. Nick Arnold, who scored twice for the visitors, netted a game-tying goal at the 14:08 mark, and less than a minute later, Blue Bombers senior sweeper Keegan Barney received a red card.
Lake Placid actually dominated most of the action for the remainder of the first half, but not finishing off some great scoring opportunities came back to haunt the Blue Bombers later in the game.
The Warriors grabbed a 2-1 edge 11:34 into the second half when a Walker Lobdell corner kick deflected off Meyer. Arnold scored his second of the game less than three minutes later to give Willsboro a two-goal advantage, then Seth Swires sealed the win on a tally with less than five minutes left in the contest.
"It would have been much different if we could have cashed in on one or more of our numerous chances before intermission," Lake Placid coach Stuart Hemsley said. "If we could have scored, that would have put the pressure on them. It's tough enough playing down a man for 65 minutes when you're even, but making up a deficit is more difficult.
"After Willsboro got that lead, they were able to play keep away," Hemsley added. "Once you start chasing the ball around, you get pretty tired. Plus, we were going against the wind in the second half."
Meyer's goal came on a beautiful play that began with Haile Thompson carrying the ball up the middle of the field. He dished off a pass to a wide-open Meyer, who fired the ball into the lower corner of the net past a diving Willsboro keeper, Dakoda Latford.
Arnold netted the equalizer on a defensive mixup when he was left alone in front of the Blue Bombers net, took control of a loose ball and beat goalie Chris Kordziel with a shot.
After taking the lead on the own-goal play, the Warriors rounded out the scoring with two beautiful shots. Arnold ripped a shot by Kordziel for the third Willsboro tally, and as the clock was winding down, Swires lofted a shot into the upper corner of the net for the fourth Willsboro goal.
The Warriors, who play in Class D, finished with a 6-8 record.
The Blue Bombers finished the Northern Soccer League season with a 9-5 mark and are the top seed heading into the Class C playoffs, which Hemsley expects to be extremely competitive. Also vying for the Class C title are AuSable Valley, Seton Catholic and Northern Adirondack. Lake Placid will be without Barney for its semifinal match. Dates and times of the games are expected to be determined today.
"We have wins against Seton and Northern Adirondack, but we had to work for them, and AuSable is moving down (from Division I) for the postseason," Hemsley said. "There will be no easy matches. Nothing's a given at this point of the season. We can do the job, we just need to regroup."
Willsboro 4, Lake Placid 1
1. LP, Meyer (H. Thompson), 2:22; 2. W, Arnold, 14:08.
3. W, own-goal off LP defender, 11:34; 4. W, Arnold (Lobdell), 14:07; 5. W, Swires (Sloper), 35:48.
Shots: Willsboro 12, Lake Placid 12.
Saves: W, Latford 6; LP, Kordziel 5.