SARANAC LAKE - The Saranac Lake boys soccer team suffered its first loss of the season Tuesday, and at the same time, the standings in the Northern Soccer League's top division got a whole lot tighter.
With a chance to notch their sixth win in a row, the Red Storm came up short, falling 2-1 to visiting Plattsburgh at Schroeter's Field.
In an evenly-played match, the Hornets got a goal from Garrett Frady less than two minutes into the contest and Dan Mihal broke a 1-1 tie early in the second half when he scored what proved to be the game-winner.
Saranac Lake goalkeeper Oliver Holmes leaps into a fray of players to deflect a corner kick away from danger during the second half of Tuesday’s match against Plattsburgh at Schroeter’s Field.
(Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)
Saranac Lake is still atop the Division I heap with a 5-1 record, but shares the spot with Beekmantown, which also has just one loss. By winning, the Hornets improved to 3-2 and moved into a third-place tie with Peru. Northeastern Clinton, the Red Storm's next opponent, is also in the mix with a 3-2-1 record.
"After the game, I told the guys 'Don't let that last 80 minutes take away from what we are trying to accomplish," Saranac Lake coach Josh Marlow said. "Sure it's our first loss, but we are looking at the bigger picture."
Both Plattsburgh goals came off head balls. On the Hornets first goal, a shot was rattled off the crossbar and bounced out to Frady, who headed the ball past Red Storm keeper Oliver Holmes, who was hampered by the bright sun shining in his face.
Entering the second half trailing 1-0, Saranac Lake got the equalizer on an own-goal by Plattsburgh, which came less than five minutes after the intermission. On the play, a number of Red Storm players were attacking a ground ball in front of the Hornets' net, and it wound up being deflected past Plattsburgh goalie Mike Stetz.
The Hornets answered quickly, as Mihal headed in a shot at the 9:12 mark with Yanis Yahiaui picking up the assist.
Plattsburgh was then able to hold off a hard-pressing Red Storm team the rest of the way to preserve the victory.
"Yeah, we're happy. We just beat the 18th-ranked team in the state," Plattsburgh coach Chris LaRose said. "We scouted Saranac Lake and saw they were strong and fast in the middle of the field, so we practiced on keeping the ball wide. It worked out pretty nicely for us today.
"This was essentially a must-win game for us," LaRose added. "If we lost, we would have been three games off the pace. Now, we're right back in the thick of things."
Both teams recorded 15 shots in the match. Stetz finished with six stops to earn the win and Holmes made five saves in a losing effort.
"We didn't play as well in the first half as we did in the second," Marlow said. "Plattsburgh came right out and got that goal, and I'll give them that. They got off to a great start. They are a tight-passing, hard-nosed aggressive team.
"I think we outplayed them in the second half," Marlow continued. "We just kept pouring it on, but unfortunately, we couldn't come up with another goal. The key for us now is being able to bounce back. That's what championship teams do, and if that's what we want to be, we'll have to recover."
Saranac Lake will be on the road Thursday to face Northeastern Clinton starting at 4:30 p.m.