Red Storm come up empty

Saranac Lake junior Bryson Mariano charges toward a ball that Saranac Central goalkeeper Branden Ashley covers up while Chiefs defender Dominic Harkness goes airborne during the second half of Monday’s match. (Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)

SARANAC LAKE — Saranac Lake’s recent scoring struggles continued on Monday in a 1-0 loss to Saranac Central in boys Northern Soccer League Division I action at Schroeter’s Field.

It was the last regular-season match at home for the Red Storm, and they came out strong on senior day by controlling the early stages. But as the minutes progressed and possession began to even out, the Chiefs were the team that cashed in on opportunity when Zashon Abrams netted the only goal of the game, scoring 1:09 into the second half.

The Red Storm had a handful of really solid chances to answer with the equalizer down the stretch but came up empty.

“We just can’t finish,” said Saranac Lake co-head coach Brad Rafferty. “We got a great start, we even responded after their goal, we’re just having a hard time scoring. We didn’t get a lot of goals early in the season, then we had a run of three, four games when we scored a lot, and now we’re back to having a hard time putting it in the net. We’re playing the top teams close, but it’s been just one goal in our last four games.

“In a soccer game, you’re going to get four or five chances,” Rafferty continued. “They buried one of theirs, we didn’t. They were a quick team, they passed well. We need to advance up the field as a team. We were missing passes, not connecting, and we gave up way too many direct kicks. I think it was about 12-2 in their favor.”

Saranac Lake’s Patrick Wamsganz fires a shot wide of the net during the second half of Monday’s match against Saranac Central. (Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)

The Chiefs poured all kinds of pressure on right after intermission. They nearly netted the game’s first goal with less than a minute gone in the second half on a hard shot that just missed the upper right corner of the net. Seconds later, however, Saranac got on the board when Abrams sent a low shot into the middle of the net after taking a feed from Nikalas Hamel, who sent a perfect cross into the box from the right wing.”

Trailing by a goal, Saranac Lake went on to produce three close calls while trying to tie the score with the clock winding down. Two of those chances came on shots from the right wing by Patrick Wamsganz and Dylan Amell, that both went wide on the short side. The other one was a header that Reuben Bernstein sent wide of the left post on a cross from Bryson Mariano.

“We knew Saranac Lake would come out strong,” Saranac Central coach Calvin Hamel said. “It was their senior day, they have experience, and for about the first 15 minutes, I think that was the weakest soccer we’ve played. We weathered the storm.

“We picked it up around the middle of the first half and carried that into the second, and we got that goal,” he added. “We were much better at controlling possession in the second half; did a nice job passing the ball.”

Assisting on the game-winner may have replaced some bad memories for Nikalas Hamel, the coach’s son who broke his leg playing 51 weeks ago in Saranac Lake under eerily similar circumstances.

“Nikalas told me earlier today he was worried about this game. He really didn’t want to play,” coach Hamel said. “He broke his leg in three places last year on the same kind of day. It was their senior game, kind of gray gloomy day, and a wet field. It turned out OK. The field wasn’t that bad, Nikalas got an assist.”

Saranac Central held a 10-6 edge in shots. Zach Churco recorded nine saves in net for Saranac Lake and Branden Ashley registered six stops to earn the shutout win in goal for the Chiefs.

Saranac Central improved to 9-3-1 with the win and next hosts Northeastern Clinton on Wednesday.

Saranac Lake, which has won twice this season, next plays Wednesday at Beekmantown.

Lake Placid 1, Massena 1

LAKE PLACID — Competing in a non-league match of Section VII and Section X teams, host Lake Placid and Massena played to a 1-1 draw Monday on the Blue Bombers’ pitch at the North Elba Show Grounds.

The Red Raiders scored in the first half and the Blue Bombers netted their marker in the second half.

Massena scored with just 33 seconds remaining in the opening half on a goal credited to Luke Greco. On the play, the Red Raiders mounted a 3-on-3 advance, with Greco taking a feed from Ryan Letham and getting off a shot that deflected off Lake Placid sweeper Matt Brandes into the net.

Brendan Bullock buried the equalizer for the Blue Bombers, scoring 11:13 into the second half on an assist by Sebastian Narvaez. Bullock scored on a 25-yard shot from a sharp angle that sailed over Massena keeper Ryan Herrick and bounced off the far post and into the net.

Lake Placid outshot Massena 20-8. Jack Armstrong recorded seven saves in goal for the Blue Bombers and Herrick was credited with 19 stops.

“We played some good stuff again and we’re moving in the right direction,” said Lake Placid coach Stuart Hemsley, adding that after they tied the match, “the Blue Bombers pushed forward, hit the post, hit side netting but could not grab a winner.”

Lake Placid was slated to host Seton Catholic on Wednesday for the Blue Bombers senior day match, but the contest was rescheduled for Thursday, Oct. 17 at 4 p.m. Lake Placid’s next game is at Plattsburgh on Friday.