SARANAC LAKE - Players on the Saranac Lake boys soccer team received a wake-up call Thursday afternoon when they found themselves trailing by a goal in the second half against winless AuSable Valley.
And the Red Storm team that stands on top of the Division I standings answered that call in a big way, scoring the next five goals of the match to pull away to a 5-1 victory at Schroeter's Field.
After a 0-0 opening half, the Patriots threw what proved to be a brief scare into the Saranac Lake fans when Riley Taylor scored 12:43 into the second stanza to give his team a 1-0 edge. Facing a situation where a possible upset loss would have dropped them out of first place, the Red Storm erupted for five unanswered goals, including three in a span of less than two minutes.
Saranac Lake’s Aaron Noel goes airborne while firing a shot toward the AuSable Valley net during the first half of Wednesday’s game at Schroeter’s Field. Also pictured is Elias Smith of the Patriots.
(Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)
All five Saranac Lake goals came from in close and were set up on nice passing plays. Senior Devin Cowan, who has been battling an ankle sprain, tied the match for Saranac Lake at the 22:09 mark, and Aaron Noel put the Red Storm ahead to stay with a goal 1:16 later.
David Cluckey notched the next two Saranac Lake goals, tallying at the 24:06 mark and burying his second with 12:40 left in the match to put the hosts on top 4-1. Shawn Snyder rounded out the scoring, netting the Red Storm's fifth of the match with 5:13 remaining.
The Red Storm dominated possession from start to finish, but struggled to put the ball in the net until their late flurry. Saranac Lake outshot AuSable Valley 9-1 in the first half and finished with a 25-4 edge in the game.
A number of Saranac Lake's players fired shots over and wide of the net early, and Patriots goalkeeper Jimmy Provost also made some great leaping saves to keep his team in the game.
"I was able to relax after Devin scored for us," Saranac Lake coach Josh Marlow said. "At that point, we were back in the driver's seat. I thought we would be able to get another one and pull out a win, but I didn't expect us to explode like that. Five goals in 12 minutes, that's pretty good stuff.
"I have to give AuSable a lot of credit," Marlow added. "We knew we had the better athletes, but they never quit. They hustled and got that goal to take the lead."
Cowan and Noel each finished with a goal and an assist for the Red Storm. Brad Shumway and Jeremy Barge also added single assists for the winners, who improved to 7-2-1 overall.
Alex Knapp had one assist for the Patriots, who fell to 0-10 overall with the loss.
"I think that AuSable should hold their heads high. They played their hearts out," Marlow said. "Once we turned up the speed of the game, we were able to get the goals flowing. We have that extra gear when we choose to use it. I've been waiting all season for that surge, it was nice to finally see it."
Marlow credited Logan Wood with a strong performance for Saranac Lake, and also said Provost played a standout game in a losing effort in nets for the Patriots. Provost finished with 12 saves and Oliver Holmes recorded three stops in goal for the Red Storm.
Saranac Lake next plays Monday at home against Saranac Central. The Red Storm senior will be honored at the match, which is slated to start at 4:30 p.m.
Saranac Lake 5, AuSable Valley 1
1. AV, Taylor (Knapp), 12:43; 2. SL, Cowan (Noel), 22:09; 3. SL, Noel, 23:25; 4. SL. Cluckey (Shumway), 24:06; 5. SL, Cluckey (Cowan), 27:20; 6. SL, Snyder (Barge), 34:47.
Shots: Saranac Lake 25, AuSable Valley 4
Saves: AV, Provost 12; SL, Holmes 3