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Storm falls in league final

Abnormal, shortened season comes to an end

Saranac Lake senior Reuben Bernstein takes a shot on goal in Saturday's Mountain Boys Championship. As it turned out, the Red Storm could not find the back of the net, and the Saranac Chiefs defeated them 2-0 to end a season shortened due to the DVID-19 pandemic. (Provided photo — Rachel Sharples)

SARANAC — A sea of red and white fans lined Saranac Central’s soccer field to watch the Mountain Boys Championship between Saranac Lake and Saranac Central this past Saturday. While both teams fought hard, the Chiefs took the title with a 2-0 victory.

From the start, all the players put on strong offensive fronts, but the Red Storm struggled to keep control of the ball against the Chiefs’ tough defense.

Both teams broke out to drive the ball to the net, with fans cheering enthusiastically in hopes of scoring, but neither team could capitalize in the first 30 minutes. Saranac Central’s massive pressure paid off when Zashon Abrams struck first at 9:21 with an assist from Brady Doorey.

Heading into the second half with tensions high, Saranac Lake played even more aggressively against its fierce opponent, even gaining the edge on shots for a time, but none of the Red Storm players were able to find the back of the net.

Ultimately, Saranac Central’s strong showing won the day, and team captain Nikalas Hamel solidified the Chiefs’ lead by scoring the second point of the day with an assist from Zashon Abrams.

Saranac Lake senior Bryson Mariano (13) looks up while racing to the ball in the league championship game Saturday at Saranac. (Provided photo — Rachel Sharples)

Overall, Saranac Lake put 11 shots on net with eight saves from goalie Nate McCarthy, and Saranac Central got 16 shots with 10 saves from goalie Brandon Ashley.

Red Storm coach Brad Rafferty said that it was a tough way to end an abnormal, shortened season, but he was glad for what the team was able to do.

“The (players) are a little emotional right now, but they had a great season. We’re mostly thankful we made it this far,” he said. “I know some of the other teams didn’t get to play their championship games. We’re happy to be here. We played Saranac really tough three games. The first game we lost 2-1, the second game 2-nothing, the third game 2-nothing, but we were in it, and we had chances. I thought it was pretty evenly played, and they had a couple nice breaks where they finished.”

Rafferty noted the performances of seniors Colter Cheney-Seymour and Bryson Mariano, especially when put up against Saranac Central standout Nikalas Hamel.

“Colter plays really well, and it was kind of his job to shut (Hamel) down, and he did all game,” he mentioned. “And then Bryson Mariano, our top center forward, I thought had probably his best game of the year, even though he didn’t score. He was a threat all (game).”

Saranac Lake senior Colter Cheney-Seymour (11) traps the ball in Saturday’s league championship game. The Red Storm coach noted his performance in the game. (Provided photo — Rachel Sharples)

In light of Saranac Lake’s schools going remote this week, Rafferty said the end of the season was particularly difficult this year, with the added separation and uncertainty.

“It’s weird wrapping up because our school just went remote, so I don’t even get to see these kids in school next week,” he said. “So the wrap-up is going to be especially hard this year, not seeing them until maybe January.”

Saranac Lake senior Adrian Hayden (9) breaks through a pair of Saranac players to chase the ball in the championship game this past Saturday. (Provided photo — Rachel Sharples)

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