LAKE PLACID - After claiming the first boys soccer title in Lake Placid school history one week ago, the Blue Bombers have an opportunity to make an already successful season even more memorable. And that's exactly what Lake Placid's players and first-year coach Stuart Hemsley want to happen.
On Saturday, Section VII, Class C champion Lake Placid ventures into the state playoff round for the first time when it takes on Section II winner Hoosick Falls in a quarterfinal match being played at AuSable Valley starting at 1 p.m. And there's a big prize for the winner as the game determines who will advance to next weekend's state final four tournament being held in Middletown.
"There's so much excitement about this team here in Lake Placid," Hemsley said. "Our goal was to win our sectional championship, and we've already done that. The pressure is off us now, and anywhere we go from here is a bonus."
Although the Blue Bombers have achieved what they set out to do at the start of the season, they aren't looking to see their run end, and Hemsley said that's been evident in practice this week.
"Our only plan is to go out and win on Saturday," Hemsley said. "We've been flying forward in practice at game speed. Our kids are super excited."
The Blue Bombers carry a 12-6 record into Saturday's matchup against 15-5 Hoosick Falls. The Panthers reached this stage by posting two overtime victories, the first coming in their Section II final and the second a 1-0 triumph over Canton Tuesday in regional play.
Seniors have paved the way for Lake Placid this season.
Haile Thompson is a player who has come up big during his final year playing on the team. He leads the Blue Bombers in scoring, and has recorded the only three goals Lake Placid has scored in the playoffs. He scored a first-half tally to lift the Bombers past AuSable Valley 1-0 in the Section VII, Class C semifinal, then notched a pair of markers in his team's 2-0 triumph over Seton Catholic in the title tilt.
"Haile has our three playoff goals, but we have many more guys who can score," Hemsley said, adding that Hunter Wilson, Eddie Kane, and Haile's younger brother, Nzoni, are among the Blue Bombers' other scoring threats. "We create a lot of chances."
Lake Placid has also been solid in goal with a pair of shutouts posted in the playoffs by junior Chris Kordziel.
Hemsley said Lake Placid's success so far this season has stemmed mainly from players sticking up for each other.
"When we defend, we defend together, and when we attack, everyone is attacking," Hemsley said. "Basically, everyone has each other's back. It's been awesome watching them working together.
"Our guys are quietly confident," Hemsley added. "These other teams have been to the regionals before. We haven't. At this point, we have nothing to lose, but we aren't planning on losing. This is our best chance ever to get to the final four."