Late goal dooms Red Storm

Saranac Lake's Lea Hill (17) and Julia Chapin battle for the ball with Seton Catholic's Haley Murnane (5) and Sydney Falb during the opening half of Wednesday's Section VII, Class C quarterfinal playoff game at Schroeter's Field. (Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)

SARANAC LAKE — The Saranac Lake girls soccer team’s season came to an end, and a painful one, as Seton Catholic netted a late goal to down the Red Storm 2-1 in the quarterfinal round of the Section VII, Class C playoffs Tuesday at Schroeter’s Field.

On a day that saw Saranac Lake own an overwhelming edge in shots, the Red Storm were able to rally once to tie the match, but they couldn’t overcome the Knights’ second goal scored with just over seven minutes remaining in regulation.

Sydney Falb and Kennedy Spriggs were among the heroes for the Knights. Falb netted both Seton Catholic goals while Spriggs did a great job keeping the ball out of the net at the other end of the field in allowing just a single goal.

Saranac Lake entered the match on a high after posting one of its biggest triumphs in recent years in its regular-season finale, last Thursday’s 2-1 double overtime victory over Saranac Central. The Red Storm, however, couldn’t make it two signature wins in a row and finished the year with a 3-9-2 mark.

The Knights came into the match as the sixth seed and grabbed a 1-0 lead over the third-seeded Red Storm when Falb scored only goal of the opening half. Saranac Lake then poured on the pressure after intermission and were rewarded with a tying tally from Annabelle Bombard-Schmidt midway through the second half.

Saranac Lake’s Chloe Reardon and Kylee Clark (16) chase a loose ball in Seton Catholic’s end of the field during the second half of Tuesday’s game. Pictured for the Knights are Sophie Macner (11), Morgan Reid and goalie Kennedy Spriggs. (Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)

With the score tied 1-1, Saranac Lake continued to press looking to go ahead, but one mistake, a turnover near midfield, led to Falb’s second tally that stood as the game-winner.

The loss was particularly tough for the 11 Red Storm seniors who ended their high school soccer careers after helping Saranac Lake’s girls play their most competitive season in the past few years.

“The big win against Saranac was huge for us, and I think we came in a little bit flat today,” Red Storm head coach Emily Doyle-Shubert said. “It took them a few minutes to wake up. We picked it up after their first goal, and by the end we were playing like ourselves. We were just unlucky.”

Both goals in regulation came off of beautiful crossing passes. The Knights’ score came with 9:48 left in the first half on a play that saw Abby Boyle arc a cross into the box from the right wing, and Falb was on the other end to fire a shot past Red Storm keeper Mecayln Sousa.

For the past two seasons, Saranac Lake has turned to Grace Clark for much of its scoring, and the senior came up big in the second half to set up the Red Storm’s tying tally. As the only player taking Saranac Lake’s corner kicks, Clark had a handful of chances at making something happen on set plays. The Red Storm’s tying goal came on one of those corner kicks, when Clark dropped a ball into a crowd in front of the Knights net, and Bombard-Schmidt buried it through a crowd and past Spriggs.

Annabelle Bombard-Schmidt of the Red Storm leaps to control the ball Tuesday. (Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)

Despite giving up a tying goal, and facing more pressure after that, the Knights came through in the end. Their game-winner started in transition at midfield and on a multi-player rush with Falb burying the game-winner off an assist from Sophie Macner.

Saranac Lake had one more good opportunity to tie the match on another corner kick from Clark, but the shot would up landing harmlessly in the top of the netting just inside the near post.

“Grace Clark was sending beautiful crosses in and we didn’t finish them, except for one, and that finish was beautiful but we should have finished more. She can curl it in,” Doyle-Shubert said.

Doyle-Shubert added she was impressed with the speed of the Knights attackers, as well as their goalie.

“Seton’s forwards really attacked the ball. They won every ball up front,” Doyle-Shubert said. “I think they pressured on defense and our middies didn’t get back quick enough. And their keeper did a nice job. Without her back there, a few of our crosses would have gone in.

“This game could have gone either way. It went back and forth the whole time and luckily, we capitalized when it mattered,” Seton Catholic coach Ariel Masten said. “We had enough momentum going forward, thank goodness, that we could score the goal.”

Masten said she was happy to see her players hold off Saranac Lake down the stretch.

“I was very nervous, but this team, they’ve played together the whole season, and they all work hard for each other and that’s what they did. They had to prove that again today,” Masten said. “They were able to work the ball out of the defensive end. They did a good job passing the ball up field instead of just kicking the ball up. We passed well today.”

Saranac Lake co-captain Julia Chapin said despite the loss, her team had a good run this year.

“We came out flat I guess and they got a goal because of that. We really gave it our all the whole second half,” Chapin said. “At the end, we weren’t lucky, but that’s all you can ask for; give it your all. It’s been a great season. It was nice because you know everyone and we’re all really close, we carry on as a team. I think our team spirit showed this season.”

Seton Catholic entered the postseason as the lowest seeded Class C team and now takes on Moriah, which blanked Ticonderoga 6-0 in another quarterfinal match Wednesday. Top-seed Lake Placid will face AuSable Valley in the other semifinal game, with both contests taking place Saturday at Saranac Central.

Doyle-Shubert said she felt especially bad for the seniors who banded together while upping the level of play for the Red Storm girls this fall.

“You can see by the end of the game they were devastated,” she said. “A really tight-knit group, really good girls. It was a great year. I’m really proud of them. The last few years, this is the best we’ve done.”