SARANAC LAKE - The North Country Community College men's and women's soccer teams had a tough task at hand when they hosted nationally-ranked Herkimer in a doubleheader Wednesday.
Both Saints squads kept things close, but came up short in the end as the Generals earned a sweep in Saranac Lake.
In opening match, Herkimer's women claimed a 2-1 win over NCCC, and the two-time defending national champion Herkimer men's team followed with a 3-0 shutout win over NCCC on the strength three first-half goals.
With a trio of teammates closing in to help, North Country Community College goalie Emily LaPage dives into traffic to stop a shot from Herkimer’s Dani Nicosia during Wednesday’s match in Saranac Lake.
(Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)
North Country players, from the left, Fender Pierre Louis, Cius Pierrelens and Jaime Flores-Castellon team up to advance the ball from the Saints’ zone in front of Herkimer’s Ritchie Hetherington during Wednesday’s game.
(Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)
Saranac Lake graduate Chelsea LaFountain scored with just 3:17 gone in the women's match to give NCCC a 1-0 lead with Courtney Boyea assisting on the play. The Generals then answered with the next two. Dani Nicoisa evened the score at 1-1 when she beat NCCC keeper Emily LaPage on a wide-open shot from in close midway through the second half. Kalli Warmingham then netted the game-winner 3:45 after intermission.
The Generals owned a huge edge in shots as they fired 25 at the Saints net guarded by LaPage, who is one of the top goalkeepers in Region III. LaPage made 16 saves for NCCC. The Saints recorded seven shots and Herkimer goalie Krisiti Bills made two saves in the match.
"We just didn't match up well with them on defense," NCCC coach Kent Egglefield said. "We've been in every game this season except for one, and this was just a tough loss for us. Herkimer has a good team, but we didn't play well defensively. This was probably the worst defensive effort we've had all season.
"When we scored that first goal early, I thought we were on our way," Egglefield added. "But then we gave up a terrible goal on a defensive breakdown."
Egglefield credited LaPage with another outstanding effort for the Saints, and said that Epril Nosssent, a student-athlete from Norway, also had a strong performance at midfield.
The Generals improved to 6-1-1 with the win while the Saints dropped to 5-5.
NCCC's women will play their next two games on the road this weekend, squaring off against Alfred State Saturday and traveling to Jamestown Community College Sunday.
The Herkimer men's team came into their game with the Saints as the NJCAA two-time defending Division III national champions as well as the nation's top-ranked team this season.
The Saints gave the Generals all they could handle and only trailed 1-0 until Herkimer notched a pair of goals late in the opening half to pull ahead 3-0 at the intermission. The two teams then played scoreless soccer in the second half as Herkimer claimed the win and improved to 6-0.
Jermaine Windster, a sophomore from Rotterdam, Holland, scored twice for the winners and assisted on their third goal scored by James Wilson, a sophomore midfielder from England.
Windster scored his first 14:09 into the match, and gave Herkimer a 2-0 edge with his second tally, which came with 2:13 left before the intermission. Wilson followed with a huge goal, scoring with 7.8 seconds remaining in the opening half.
"We knew coming in here that North Country has a great team," Herkimer head coach Pepe Aragon said. "When we scored that third goal with less than 10 seconds left in the half, we knew it would be awfully tough for them to come back.
"I give North Country tons of credit," Aragon added. "In the second half, it was a 0-0 game. We had to play well to beat them."
The Generals held a 19-5 edge in shots. Tristin Henry recorded three saves in goal for the winners before being replaced by Juan Castro, who made a tough stop on a point-blank shot by NCCC's Justin Bergman late in the match to preserve the shutout. Drew Garnaut had three saves in nets for the Saints.
"We just played the team with two national championships in a row, they're the top-ranked team in the nation right now, and three defensive errors cost us three goals," NCCC head coach Adam DiVincenzo said. "My only regret was those defensive mistakes, because a team like Herkimer will make you pay for that. We battled. I'm proud of our guys."
The slated doesn't get much easier for the NCCC men, who are 4-3-1 and next host Adirondack, the nation's fifth-ranked team, on Sunday. The opening kickoff is slated for 1 p.m.