Red Storm shake off Shamrocks

Saranac Lake’s Kylee Clark controls the ball deep in Salmon River’s end of the field while Yanenowi Logan defends for the Shamrocks on Wednesday, May 16 at North Country Community College in Saranac Lake. The Red Storm defeated Salmon River for the first time in five years. (Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)

SARANAC LAKE — Typically, when it comes to high school spring sports in the Tri-Lakes, the beginning of the season doesn’t go very well for teams due to a lack of outdoor practices and a long spring break. The goal normally is to improve and be peaking for the playoffs.

When it comes to the Saranac Lake girls lacrosse squad, it appears that things might be going exactly to plan.

On Wednesday, the Red Storm won their third straight match, and it came against a perennial power house, the Salmon River Shamrocks.

Competing on home turf at North Country Community College for the second time in three days, Saranac Lake toppled Salmon River 11-8 in what was close to a dominating performance. Although the final margin of victory was three goals, the Red Storm remained in control for much of the contest.

Lydia Bullock scored five goals, Ryley Fischer found the back of the net four times and recorded an assist, and Kylee Clark added two scores and an assist to power the Red Storm, a young group that started the season with no substitutes and is still going strong as a team of 12. Rylee Preston also chipped in one assist and played a key role in controlling ground balls.

Sydney Dann advances the ball for Saranac Lake while Salmon River’s Kendall Jock (6) and Jadie Burns pursue the play during the first half of Wednesday’s match at North Country Community College in Saranac Lake. (Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)

Saranac Lake surged out to a 3-0 lead, and after the Shamrocks eventually deadlocked the match at 5-5, the Red Storm responded with the next five goals to take control.

“We’re hot right now. I think we’re the hottest team in the league,” Saranac Lake head coach Shannon Muldowney said. “Salmon River had 40, 45 girls try out for their team and they have a modified program. We had 12 show up for our team this year and we beat them today. They’re a strong program. They have more subs on the bench than we have on the field.

“Our goal scorers are stepping up. Our defense was on fire,” Muldowney added. “Our girls are fired up. They love being the underdog.”

Wednesday marked the third match in a row where the Red Storm netted 11 goals or more as they improved to 4-5 overall. Saranac Lake scored two goals late in the opening half to carry a 7-5 edge into intermission and then netted the first three tallies of the second half to pull away. A big factor in the victory was ball control, and the Red Storm did a great job with possession, playing keep away as the clock ticked down in the match.

“To be able to share the ball like that and trust everyone on your team is big, because if there’s only a couple of girls who can successfully catch and do that then it takes away the threat of that kill because they only have to mark two girls,” Muldowney said. “The way they were able to share it fully was huge for us.”

Lydia Bullock attempts to sprint past a Salmon River defender during trhe second half of Wednesday’s match. Bullock scored five times to lead the Red Storm to vicotry. (Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)

In addition to crediting her attackers with a solid performances, Muldowney said Sydney Dann, Julia Chapin and Preston all turned in strong efforts on defense and scooping up ground balls.

Jadie Burns netted three goals to pace Salmon River, which dropped to 7-4 with the loss. Jillian Benedict added two goals for the Shamrocks and Payton Logan, Kendall Jock and Meg Martin chipped in a tally apiece.

Dava Thompson tended nets for Salmon River and Ericka Swirsky earned the win in goal for Saranac Lake.

Fischer, a junior team captain, said although it would be nice to have a few more players on the roster, competing with no substitutes has actually benefited the Red Storm this spring.

“Being that we don’t have any subs, it simply comes down to: we have really good athletes,” Fischer said. “We all just work really well as a team, and part of that might be we’re such a small team we get to spend so much time together. I think we work really, really hard and we have some crazy good athletes that thrive in other sports along with lacrosse. Honestly I think it’s a blessing we have a small team.”

The victory marked the first time Saranac Lake has beaten Salmon River since 2013.

“Three years ago, Salmon River had a documentary on Netflix about them, about how they’re the makers of the game,” Fischer said. “It’s just kind of amazing that this team in the mountains just came out and beat Salmon River. It’s just an amazing feeling. When the rest of the league sees that Saranac Lake beat Salmon River their jaws will drop. We’re going to be a big contender in playoffs. We just can’t let it get to our heads.”

Saranac Lake has two matches remaining in the regular season prior to the playoffs. After knocking off the Shamrocks to avenge a 12-5 regular-season setback on April 16, the Red Storm will face a huge test on Friday when they travel to face the league-leading Massena Red Raiders, who have lost just once this spring. Saranac then wraps up its schedule Saturday with a home match against Ogdensburg at the NCCC field starting at noon.