SARANAC LAKE - In a heated match that saw three yellow cards handed out and one player get ejected, the Saranac Lake boys soccer team regained the top spot in the Division I standings with a 1-0 victory over Beekmantown on Monday at Schroeter's Field.
Saranac Lake snapped a two-game losing skid with the victory and improved to 6-2 in Division I of the Northern Soccer League. Senior Blake Battistoni notched the winning goal for the Red Storm with just 1:28 gone in the second half.
The Eagles came into the match leading the league with a 5-1 mark after falling to the Red Storm earlier this season. Both teams now have two losses. Saranac Lake owns the tiebreaker over Beekmantown after completing the regular-season sweep.
Saranac Lake senior captains David Cluckey (6) and Brad Shumway converge on the ball along with Eagles Alex Proper (8) and Skye Dominy during Monday’s game at Schroeter’s Field in Saranac Lake.
(Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)
"We're back on top," Saranac Lake head coach Josh Marlow said. "This was a win we really needed. We had to get back to our winning ways. We haven't been playing our best soccer the last couple of games. In those games, we made some mistakes in our defensive end and our opponents made us pay.
"Before the game, we didn't talk about where we were in the standings," Marlow continued. "We came in here with the feeling that we haven't won a game all year. We said 'Let's go back to our roots and play good soccer.'"
Beekmantown finished with a 16-12 advantage in shots. Senior Oliver Holmes earned the shutout in nets for Saranac Lake with nine saves. Matt LeClair also had a solid outing in goal for the Eagles and recorded six stops.
LeClair had little chance of making the save on the only goal of the game, which came on a great play crafted by a fired-up Red Storm team shortly after intermission. Junior Ethan Sawyer started the play by taking control of the ball near midfield along the left side of the field. Sawyer advanced the ball up the wing and sent a pass to Brad Shumway, who then crossed the ball the ball to Battistoni, who was charging toward the net on the right wing. Battistoni then fired a shot into the net past a diving LeClair.
"That was about as nice as a goal as you'll see," Marlow said. "It was a great passing play."
The Eagles had one player yellow-carded in the first half, and then were left short-handed late when another Eagle was ejected with about seven minutes remaining in the match.
"Our plan was to put pressure on Beekmantown, and they just buckled," Marlow said. "We really kept our composure out there in an important game against a very good team. I'm proud of our guys."
The Red Storm, who are 6-2-1 overall, will be at home again Wednesday to host AuSable Valley starting at 4:30 p.m.
Saranac Lake 1, Beekmantown 0
1. SL, Battistoni (Shumway), 1:28
Shots - Beekmantown 16, Saranac Lake 12
Saves - B, LeClair 6; SL, Holmes 9.