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Saints victorious on home turf

Nidia DeArmaYero (16), of North Country, and Mackenzie Gardner of Tompkins Cortland chase the ball during Sunday’s game. (Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)

SARANAC LAKE — The North Country Community College men’s and women’s soccer teams earned a sweep at home Sunday with victories over Tompkins Cortland.

The Saints women kicked off the doubleheader with a 6-0 triumph over the Panthers, and NCCC’s men followed with a 3-1 win, which was their second of the season after not fielding a team a year ago.

NCCC’s women are off to a solid start to their schedule. They improved to 4-1 on Sunday with their second credited win of the weekend. The Saints were slated to host Cayuga on Saturday, but that opponent forfeited due to a lack of players. NCCC then took on a Tompkins Cortland squad that arrived at the Sparks Athletic Complex with no substitutes, and their matchup was halted with 6:51 remaining in the game after three Panthers players left during the second half with injuries.

Nidia DeArmaYero had a big day for the Saints, finishing with four goals and a pair of assists. The sophomore forward who graduated from Salmon River Central School netted NCCC’s first goal seven minutes into the match and buried three more shots in the second half.

Skyelin Bradford and Taylor Razis scored the Saints’ other two goals. Bradford, a freshman from St. Regis Falls, tallied 17:00 into the game to put NCCC up 2-0, and Razis quickly tacked on the Saints’ third score a minute later.

Dzihad Cecunjanin of the Saints breaks past Panthers’ defender Ethan Buckley during the second half of Sunday’s match in Saranac Lake. (Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)

DeArmaYero then took over after intermission, scoring three times as Panthers players began to go down on the pitch. Tompkins Cortland stuck it out after losing two players to injuries, but the loss of a third late put a halt to the match.

The victory was the Saints’ third straight, including Saturday’s forfeit.

“It’s too bad, they’re just a few players away from being a good team. They’re usually in the tournament,” NCCC coach Kent Egglefield said of the Panthers. “They made regionals seven out of the last eight years. I know they only had 11, but that’s a big win for us, especially to start at 4-1 now.

“The best thing about it is with the number of girls we have, we can run teams into the ground,” Egglefield continued. “For the first time ever, I have 26 on the roster and I use every one of them. We have a lot depth. I can just keep going at teams and play as fast as we can.”

Sunday marked the Panthers’ women’s second game in as many days after they edged Clinton Community College 2-1 in a contest played Saturday in Plattsburgh.

Tristan Conners of North Country heads the ball while leaping with teammate Reilly Tulk and Tompkins Cortland’s Jonathan Marchello during Sunday’s match. (Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)

“We’re going to have to assess where we’re at when we get back home,” Tompkins Cortland coach Robert Rice said. “We have a couple players injured who didn’t travel with us, and we have another forward who didn’t travel who was at a wedding. We started off the season with 14, and now it’s kind of like day to day.

“The good thing is they’re fighters. They fought,” Rice added. “We played 38 minutes a man down, and 15 minutes, two down in this game. We’re not the only school feeling it. Others have already dropped games.”

The Saints outshot the Panthers 23-7. Kerrin O’Shaughnessy recorded 10 saves in goal for TC3 and Rosie Bamber stopped five shots to earn the shutout win in goal for NCCC.

In their three victories played, the Saints have outscored their opponents 22-1. NCCC’s lone loss so far was a 4-0 setback at Genesee Community College on Aug. 25.

“This is the best team we’ve ever had,” Egglefield said. “They execute well, they play for each other, and our defense hasn’t given up a goal since Genesee. We’re playing our formation perfectly right now; hopefully that stays that way. They get wide, they move without the ball and they run.”

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North Country 3, Tompkins-Cortland 1

SARANAC LAKE — NCCC’s men are determined to play competitive soccer this season following a one-year hiatus. The young Saints have experienced some early growing pains, but have since won two of their last three matches after taking down Tompkins Cortland on Sunday.

The 3-1 victory followed a tough 6-0 loss to Cayuga the day before also on home turf.

Denilson Reyes led NCCC’s offensive charge, finishing with two goals and assisting on the team’s other tally scored by Alex Aguirre. Reyes and Aguirre staked the Saints to a 2-0 lead on a pair of goals scoring during an 8-minute span in the opening half.

Despite owning a 17-3 edge in shots, NCCC found itself in a battle with TC3. Trailing 2-0, the Panthers cut their deficit to a single goal when they were awarded a penalty kick with four minutes left in the opening half, and Nathan Stuart cashed in, sending a low shot into the right corner of the net past Saints keeper Alex Romano to make it a 2-1 contest at halftime.

Reyes, however, came through with the lone goal of the second half, scoring 14 minutes into the second as NCCC improved to 2-3. The Saints earned their first victory of the season on Wednesday, topping Finger Lakes 5-3. The Panthers fell to 0-2, a record that includes a 4-1 loss to Clinton Community on Saturday.

“The guys played hard; they always do,” said David Clayton, who took over the men’s soccer program in March. “We have all freshmen, so it’s been tough with a few games. We’ve played some top-ranked teams, and it’s good that these guys keep fighting and fighting. It’s good to see for sure. We don’t give up on any ball. Everyone works hard to get the ball back.

“Our passing is a little suspect but we’re working on that through the midfield,” Clayton added. “Defensively we’re strong and we have some really good attackers. We have some local guys from Chazy, and Chateaugay that do a really good job for us, and a couple of Saranac Lake guys, you can’t forget them.”

Dzihad Cecunjanin and Owen Yando are Saranac Lake graduates on the Saints roster this season.

Cecunjanin, who is actually a sophomore at NCCC but in his first year with the team, said things are starting to come together for the Saints. A forward in his high school days, Cecunjanin was a defensive standout on the pitch Sunday.

“He beasted it today,” Clayton said.

“It’s been a slow start, but I think we’re picking it up now,” Cecunjanin said. “Everyone is getting to know each other and we should be getting better and better. Today, I think we just started interconnecting our passes going through the middle, exploring new options. We moved up the field.”

The Saints men and women will be at home again for another doubleheader Wednesday against Jefferson. The women kick off the action at 2 p.m. with the men’s match scheduled to begin at 4 p.m.