Saranac Lake Placid team combines two schools

Saranac Lake Placid boys lacrosse team (Enterprise photo — Justin A. Levine)

LAKE PLACID — Boys lacrosse moves into a new era on the local high school front, as the team that formerly represented Saranac Lake High School and was known as the Red Storm will be the combined Saranac Lake Placid squad for the first time.

SLP enters its Section X schedule with first-year head coach Mike Bringley, who replaced Dermott Morgan, and he’s entering a competitive league with a lot of inexperience after some top players at both ends of the field graduated in 2018.

Lost to graduation were 10 players, including the team’s all-time leading goal scorer D.J. Morgan, playmaker Emery Swanson, and three-time all-Section X goaltender Ward Walton. This season, SLP will turn to new faces to find some offense and take over in the nets, but most of all, the team will look toward consistent improvement in a sport that can take years to develop solid skills.

A dozen players return with varsity experience, although many in that number didn’t see a lot of playing time a season ago. The rest of the squad is comprised of 10 newcomers. First and foremost, Bringley hopes to instill his love of the sport into his players, with hopes that they’ll continue with the sport for years to come.

“I hope they learn to respect the game of lacrosse,” Bringley said. “It is a special game. It’s the oldest in the country, and it’s just a great game to play. No matter what the score is, you just have to keep playing hard.”

Although skills may be limited, Bringley is taking over a team of good athletes who have excelled at other sports during their young careers.

“We really lost a lot from the past couple years, but there are definitely some young athletes here who show a lot of promise,” Bringley said. “They just need experience. There’s room for a lot of improvement. It’s going to take some time, and there’s nowhere to go but up.”

Two key returning players in the field are seniors Bruno Freeman, a defensive leader, and Matt White, who will be at midfield. Sam Donaldson, who returns as a sophomore, is also expected to make an impact at midfield, as well as Rylan Christy, a senior back for his final year of high school lacrosse.

After missing all of last season recovering from an injury, senior Hayden Plank returns to varsity lacrosse and should provide some punch at attack for SLP. Bringley said sophomore Devon Elling has also shown promise up front, and first-year senior James Flanigan is also a welcome addition to the squad lining up at midfield.

A newcomer to the team that Bringley has high hopes for is sophomore Rhett Darrah, a three-sport athlete who previously played baseball before switching to lacrosse.

Bringley said he also has two promising goalies on the roster in freshman Hugo Hobson and returning junior Logan Brown, who may be splitting time tending the nets this season.

The rest of SLP’s returning players are Brandon Miner, Carter Gagnon, Dylan Murnane and Riley DeAngelo.

Unlike previous seasons where home games were almost exclusively played at Schroeter’s Field, the team will split its schedule between matches in Saranac Lake and in Lake Placid at the North Elba Athletic Fields.

Bringley said he’s excited about the team’s new look, which better represents the mix of Lake Placid and Saranac Lake student-athletes on the squad.

“This team really represents both communities, and I think this should be a good fit, both for this season and for future years. We really want to rebuild that interest in lacrosse, and I think this is a good start. I think it will be nice to have half our games played in each location. Looking at the fields at North Elba, there’s no more beautiful place to play.”