SARANAC LAKE - "That's how you do it: boom, boom, boom."
That's what Saranac Lake boys soccer coach Josh Marlow said on Thursday after his team knocked off another Division I opponent with a 3-1 victory over Peru.
Senior Devin Cowan scored three goals in the first half to give Saranac Lake a 3-0 lead, and the Red Storm clamped down on defense in the second stanza to improve to 4-0 and remain the lone unbeaten team in the Northern Soccer League's top division.
Saranac Lake’s Logan Wood advances the ball past Peru’s Jacob Dick (7) during Thursday’s match at Schroeter’s Field. Also pictured for the Red Storm is Eli Hameline.
(Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)
David Cluckey goes airborne while attempting to control the ball for the Red Storm in Thursday’s match. Also pictured is Saranac Lake’s Jacob Heverley and Peru’s Ian Spear (8) and Jessy Dick.
(Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)
A year ago, Saranac Lake's boys had just one victory to show for a season's worth of effort. But so far this fall, the senior-laden Red Storm has made the turnaround from being a perennial basement dweller to the team sitting on top of the standings.
"We're pretty excited right now," Cowan said. "We've been playing together for a long time, and everyone on this team is pretty happy to be bringing some notoriety to Saranac Lake soccer. We're getting great support. People are talking about us, and maybe even more than they talk about the football team."
Cowan scored all three of his goals in a span of less than 12 minutes, and they were all set up on great passes from teammates. Cowan netted his first goal 10:30 into the game when he took a feed from Blake Battistoni and sent a low shot into the corner of the net. His next marker gave the Red Storm a 2-0 lead at the 18:51 mark, and was on a head ball off a crossing pass from Ethan Sawyer. Cowan then buried his third at the 21:54 mark when he received a pass from Brad Shumway and chipped ball over the head of Peru goalkeeper Guy Loveless.
Leading 3-0, Saranac Lake switched to a more defensive style of play in the second half and held Peru off the board until the final minutes of the game. The Indians found some success possessing the ball after intermission, and finally broke up the shutout bid when Andrew Kneussie was credited with a Peru goal after a scramble in front of the net with 4:05 remaining in the match.
"In the first half, Devin Cowan found ways to get open and the guys found ways to get him the ball," Peru coach Matt Armstrong said. "We did a much better job stopping them in the second half. We just tightened up and corrected our defensive mistakes."
Peru held an 11-9 edge in shots. Oliver Holmes earned the win in net for the Red Storm with 10 saves, while Loveless recorded four stops in goal for the Indians.
With a chance to move into a first-place tie with Saranac Lake, Peru lost its second-straight game and is now 2-2 in Division I play.
Meanwhile, Saranac Lake got back to its winning ways following Tuesday's 1-1 tie against the Northwood School in a non-league match.
"Although our main objective against Northwood was to keep everybody healthy and get everybody in the game, we weren't happy finishing with a tie," Marlow said. "Our motto for today was 'Play like champions.' Play like you are the best team in the league.
"Our guys did a great job. I think we kind of caught Peru off guard early in the game," Marlow added. "They have the best midfielders I've seen, and we went toe-to-toe with them. We had them right where we wanted them."
Peru plays next at home Saturday afternoon against Saranac Central. The Red Storm will be on the road for their next match, which will be Monday under the lights at AuSable Valley starting at 6:30.
Saranac Lake 3, Peru 1
1. SL, Cowan (Battistoni), 10:30; 2. SL, Cowan (Sawyer), 18:51; 3. SL, Cowan (Shumway), 21:54.
4. P, Kneussie, 35:55.
Shots: Peru 11, Saranac Lake 9.
Saves: P, Loveless 4; SL, Holmes 10.