Storm lock up playoff spot

Carter Gagnon passes the ball for the Red Storm during the fourth quarter in Tuesday’s game against Potsdam. (Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)

SARANAC LAKE — With a chance to clinch a berth in the Section X playoffs, the Saranac Lake boys lacrosse team turned in a dominating performance at home Tuesday on the way to an 11-4 victory over Potsdam.

With the win, the Red Storm improved to 3-7 after sweeping the Sandstoners in two regular season meetings. Saranac Lake is also assured of finishing no lower than sixth in the Section X standings, with the top six teams qualifying for the postseason.

The Red Storm made sure they weren’t going to leave anything to chance in the key match with Potsdam. Saranac Lake jumped out to a 4-0 lead less than five minutes into the contest, pushed that edge to 6-0 and then kept the pressure on the rest of the way while surging out to an 8-1 advantage.

The Sandstoners never got closer than a five-goal deficit while falling to 0-10 in league play.

Senior Jarrett Ashton had a big day offensively, scoring five goals and adding an assist to pace Saranac Lake. Ashton netted the Red Storm’s first three goals, all from blistering shots fired from the outside.

Saranac Lake “minor” league baseball players, from left, Connor Gillis, Braydon Harvey and Ethan Knight are ready to build the mini-Fenway Park “Green Monster” for the association’s Youth Baseball and Softball Day in Riverside Park on Saturday, May 19. (Photo provided)

Emery Swanson and DJ Morgan added two goals apiece and Dylan Amell and Matt White chipped in a goal each in the win.

Saranac Lake outshot Potsdam 32-10, and on defense, senior Ward Walton turned in another solid performance in goal.

Swanson also picked up two assists and Amell, White and Bryan Sullivan recorded single assists in the win.

“Grit and ground balls are what won this game for us,” Saranac Lake head coach Dermott Morgan told his players after the game. “We’re going to the playoffs … and this tournament is wide open.”

Morgan credited a new zone offense for the Red Storm’s early scoring onslaught. Morgan said when Ashton started finding the mark from the outside and the ‘Stoners defense attempted to shut him down, it opened up room in close to the net for Swanson and DJ Morgan.

“We’ve been working on our zone offense. Right off the bat they were really taking away our attack with DJ and Emery, preventing them from dodging to the net,” coach Morgan said. “That leaves our midfielders wide open up top and No. 9 (Ashton) found the net quick, fast, and we set him up. That was key. The first time we played them it was 7-4 and they stayed in that zone defense.

“This time around, the name of the game was move that ball around, get that defense moving and get a middie to find that net and Jarrett found it,” Morgan continued. “When they came out of that zone in the second quarter, Emery and DJ started picking them apart.”

Hunter Ploof, Danner Dorothy, Cole Fayette and Carter Brown netted single tallies for the ‘Stoners. Nate Green tended nets for Potsdam.

“That was a good game. We put in a new zone offense yesterday primarily to get some open outside shots, because we haven’t had that,” Ashton said. “They came out in their zone and we scored those first few goals pretty early, and they came out of it pretty quickly.

“That was probably our best game we put together all season with ground balls and sharing the ball and playing good defense,” Ashton added. “Coming into this game our coaches said ground balls are going to win this game for us, so we tried really hard to get every ground ball we could. It was a good day.”

Saranac Lake has an outside shot at hosting a playoff game next week, but it will take a big finish to the regular season to make that happen. The Red Storm have two home matches remaining and those are against opponents who have been playing solid lacrosse recently. Saranac Lake first takes on Salmon River Friday at Schroeter’s Field starting at 5 p.m. The Red Storm will then host Ogdensburg at 11 a.m. Saturday in a match in Lake Placid at the North Elba athletic fields.