LAKE PLACID - Nzoni Thompson and Ryan Damp scored goals 47 seconds apart late in the first half to lift Lake Placid to a 2-1 victory over Northern Adirondack Wednesday in the Blue Bombers' final match of the regular season.
Lake Placid finished second in Division II in the Northern Soccer League with a 9-3-2 record overall, and also earned the top-seed and a first-round bye among the three Class C teams that will compete for the Section VII title. NAC and Seton Catholic will square off the Class C semifinal, with the winner taking on the Blue Bombers in the title match.
The Blue Bombers had already secured the No. 1 seed prior to their match with the Bobcats, but Lake Placid coach Stuart Hemsley said he wanted a strong finish from his team, which won't compete again until the Section VII, Class C championship game in two weeks. Hemsley was said he was pleased with the first half, but not thrilled about the second half as the Blue Bombers gave up a goal and then had to hold off a late Bobcats' push.
Lake Placid’s Chris Williams leaps over a fallen Northern Adirondack defender and heads toward the net while being chased by Dylan Miller late in the opening half of Wednesday’s game. Williams dished off a scoring pass to Nzoni Thompson on the play for the Blue Bombers first goal of the match.
(Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)
Lake Placid junior Nzoni Thompson leaps high above Northern Adirondack’s Collin LaBombard while heading the ball in the second half of Wednesday’s game.
(Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)
"That wasn't the type of second half I wanted to see going into a two-week break," Hemsley said. "Our goal was simply to win the game, and we did that, so I'm happy. NAC played much better in the second half. In the first half, they weren't ready for the races."
Chris Williams, a sophomore Hemsley brought up from the junior varsity earlier in the week, has made an immediate impact for the Blue Bombers. Williams had one goal and an assist in his first varsity start - a 3-0 victory Tuesday over Willsboro - and came up big again against the Bobcats by setting up his team's first tally. On the play, Williams outraced two Bobcats defenders while dribbling toward the net. He then dished off to a wide-open Thompson, who buried an easy goal to give Lake Placid a 1-0 edge with 4:13 remaining in the half.
Thompson then set up Damp for what proved to be the game-winner with 3:26 left in the half on another shot that went into an open net to cap off a two-on-one break.
Holding a 2-0 edge, the Blue Bombers seemed to play a bit more tentative after intermission, and they nearly paid the price as NAC stormed back. The Bobcats made it a 2-1 game when Ryan Manion scored off an assist by Scott Kellett with 14:12 left on the clock, and came close to tying the contest after just missing two more solid chances in the closing minutes, including a corner kick that Manion headed just over the cross bar with less than two minutes remaining.
"We should have locked this one up early," Hemsley said. "We had eight one-on-one chances with their goalkeeper and didn't bury any of them. It's tough holding onto a lead in an 80-minute match, but fortunately, we were able to do that."
The Blue Bombers held a 9-4 edge in shots on goal in the game. Senior Chris Kordziel made three stops to earn the win in goal for the Blue Bombers and Ethan King recorded six saves in the Bobcats' nets.
"Lake Placid has some real speed demons, and we let them have a little too much space in the first half," NAC coach Pat Kelleher said. "We tied them in our first meeting, and hopefully, we'll see them again and give them a better run in the championship game."
NAC fell to 5-7-1 overall with the loss and wraps up its regular season today against Chazy. The victory also the Blue Bombers an undefeated record in home matches, as they finished 5-0-1 on their turf, which included a tie against Chazy, the state's top-ranked Class D squad.
Lake Placid 2, Northern Adirondack 1
1. LP, Thompson (Williams), 35:47; 2. LP, Damp (Thompson), 46:24.
3. NAC, Manion (Kellett), 25:48.
Shots: Lake Placid 9, NAC 4.
Saves: Kordziel, LP 4. King, NAC 6.