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Storm soccer finally reaches the top

Boys soccer team wins first sectional title in 42-year history of program

A happy group of Red Storm players empty the water cooler on coach Josh Marlow following their 1-0 victory over Lake Placid in Wednesday’s Section VII, Class C boys soccer championship match at Beekmantown High School. The title was the first for the Saranac Lake boys team in its 42-year history. (Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)

BEEKMANTOWN — A 42-year run of no championships has finally ended for the Saranac Lake boys soccer team.

On Wednesday at Beekmantown High School, Saranac Lake won its first boys soccer championship in school history, topping Lake Placid 1-0 in the Section VII, Class C final.

In a defensive battle, Camden Reiley’s long direct kick 24 minutes, 15 seconds into the opening half held up as the game-winner that lifted the second-seeded Red Storm past the top-seeded Blue Bombers. Saranac Lake’s defense took over from there in a tight contest that saw very limited scoring chances generated on both sides.

“We’ve had good defense all year and we finished the good chance that we had,” Red Storm coach Josh Marlow said. “You just saw a team that wanted it. I just knew getting off the bus, our guys looked confident. I had a good feeling going in, but Lake Placid was a really tough team. I figured this was going to be a one-goal game.

“It’s hard to believe this is happening right now. It’s really amazing,” Marlow continued. “We won the 50-50s. We said coming into the game you have to win the little battles, and they add up. We dodged some bullets too, but it was all about taking care of the ball, playing aggressive, playing as a team. Everybody played great.”

Saranac Lake senior Camden Reiley, left, clears the ball through traffic during Wednesday’s Section VII, Class C final against Lake Placid. Reiley netted the lone goal of the match to lift the Red Storm boys to their first championship in school history. (Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)

Reiley boomed in his scoring shot from 45 yards out after Saranac Lake was awarded a direct kick near the left sideline near midfield. The senior sent the attempt toward the far side of the net and the ball sailed over the head of Lake Placid keeper Jack Armstrong and into the upper-right corner.

“Last year, we were so close and just barely missed it,” Reiley said, recalling the Red Storm’s double-overtime loss a season ago in the championship final. “There’s no better feeling than finally getting there. I couldn’t be more happy with how the boys on this team helped us get here. We defended really well. We held Lake Placid to one shot that wasn’t on target. “

Trailing by a goal and with the clock winding down, the Blue Bombers’ best chance to deadlock the match came with just over a minute remaining when they fired off two shots from just yards away from the goal, but both attempts never made it through Saranac Lake’s defenders. After ending the threat, the Red Storm pushed the ball toward the other end of the field as time expired.

“That was a defensive battle,” said Saranac Lake co-coach Brad Rafferty, who graduated from Lake Placid and was a standout soccer player for the Blue Bombers. “We were able to finish one of our chances. I thought both teams played really well, and it was a tough game. Our boys, they’ve been fighting so hard for this all season. To win the first banner in school history for these kids is pretty special. And to beat my alma mater here, that was a little fun too.”

The teams combined for a mere six shots, with Saranac Lake getting credit for all but one of them.

Saranac Lake’s Nick Kelting and Lake Placid’s Matt Brandes battle for possession near midfield. (Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)

“When you put stuff between the posts, you never know what’s going to happen,” Lake Placid coach Stuart Hemsley said. “Saranac Lake, they have a strong team. We knew they were strong. With nine seniors and some real talent, you know the level of their skill, and I know the skill of our players.

“At times, we knocked the ball around looking like the older team, the more controlled team,” Hemsley continued. “Our passing wasn’t off today. It was good enough to stay in the game. We just couldn’t get through their defense.”

Marlow will step down after this season as Saranac Lake’s head coach. He split those duties with Rafferty this season, and it’s a campaign that now heads into the state playoff tournament. Saranac Lake will play on the road next Wednesday against the Section II, Class C champion at a site and time to be determined.

Marlow said he couldn’t be more proud of the group that finally gave Saranac Lake a championship.

“They are a tough bunch, they’re hard working, and they never lost track of what our goal was,” Marlow said. “And they delivered for the Red Storm.”