SARANAC?LAKE - Saranac Lake scored twice in the second half to claim a 2-1 victory over Saranac Central in a Northern Soccer League match Tuesday at Schroeter's Field.
The Red Storm maintained their lead in the Division I standings with the win while improving to 8-2 in the league and 8-2-1 overall.
After a scoreless opening half, the Chiefs, who have won just once in Divison I play, grabbed the lead when Austin Myers found the back of the net 4:30 after intermission. But the veteran Red Storm came roaring back in their final regular season home game. Devin Cowan notched the equalizer at the 16:51, scoring his team-leading seventh goal, and David Cluckey buried the game-winner less than three minutes later.
After heading the ball, a leaping Jacob Heverly of Saranac Lake lands on the back of Saranac Central’s Austin Myers in Tuesday’s senior day match on the Red Storm’s home pitch.
(Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)
"In a situation where we want to be No. 1, we have to win games like these," Saranac Lake coach Josh Marlow said. "Saranac has a really good team. They put us to the test, and we just buckled down. When we have to, we've been able string together goals within two or three minutes of each other."
Myers took advantage of a mistake by Saranac Lake's defense to put his team on top early in the second half when he scored into an open net.
Trailing 1-0, Saranac Lake answered with two goals that were set up on nice passing plays. Cowan netted his tally on a setup by junior teammate Ethan Sawyer. On the play, Sawyer moved the ball toward the corner of the field from his right wing position, found some room to dribble toward the net along the end line, and sent a pass to Cowan.
A heads-up play by senior Aaron Noel led to the game-winner when he didn't hesitate after Saranac Lake was awarded an indirect kick from just outside the penalty box in front of the net. Before the Chiefs defense had time to set up, Noel passed to Cluckey, who then drilled a shot into the net from the penalty kick line for his fifth goal of the season.
"That goal was a great example of seniors knowing how the game goes," Marlow said. "Aaron literally walked up to the ball, sent a grounder to David Cluckey, and before anybody knew it, the ball was in the net. Saranac's kids just put their hands up in the air. They were a bit shocked."
Although the Chiefs came into the match with a 1-7-3 record overall, Marlow said they will be a team to watch out for in the postseason. Two of their ties were in contests against Northeastern Clinton, the defending Division I champion.
"I was really impressed with them," Marlow said. "They hustle, they play physical soccer, and I think they will be fun to watch in the playoffs. They are a good team and they are going to be dangerous."
Saranac Lake held a 17-14 edge in shots. Oliver Holmes made six saves to earn the win in nets for the Red Storm, and Jarett Wright recorded eight stops in goal for the Chiefs.
In a march toward a possible first boys Division I soccer title in school history, Saranac Lake has two tough road games left on its regular-season schedule, starting with Friday's match in Peru beginning at 4:30 p.m.
The Red Storm's regular-season finale takes place under the lights Tuesday against Plattsburgh, the team that handed Saranac Lake its first loss of the season. That game is slated to start at 6 p.m.
Saranac Lake 2, Saranac Central 1
1. S, Myers; 2. SL, Cowan (Sawyer), 16:51; 3. SL, Cluckey (Noel), 19:43.
Shots: Saranac Lake 17, Saranac 14.
Saves: SL, Noel 6; S, Wright 8.