PLATTSBURGH - The Lake Placid boys soccer team will be playing for a championship next week. The Blue Bombers girls, however, will not.
On Friday under the lights at Plattsburgh High School, Lake Placid topped AuSable Valley 1-0 in the Section VII, Class C boys semifinal round to advance to the championship match, which will be played Thursday at 7 p.m. on the same field.
The Blue Bombers' boys victory followed a shocker, as the top-seeded Lake Placid girls were upset 1-0 by Northern Adirondack, a team the Blue Bombers defeated twice during the regular season.
Lake Placid’s Nzoni Thompson advances the ball in front of AuSable Valley’s Austin Depo during the first half of Friday’s Section VII, Class C semifinal match at Plattsburgh High School. Thompson set up the only goal of the game on a pass to his brother Haile to lift the Blue Bombers into Thursday’s championship contest. Lake Placid’s girls however, weren’t as fortunate after falling 1-0 to Northern Adirondack in the first game of the doubleheader. See story on page 9.
(Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)
Senior Haile Thompson scored the game-winner for Lake Placid, sending home a feed from his younger brother Nzoni during the middle stages of the first half. The Blue Bombers boys were also the Class C top seed, and they withstood quite a challenge from the fourth-seed Patriots, who competed against the larger Class B schools during the regular season and held a 10-5 advantage in shots, missing a number of solid scoring chances.
"Boy, what an emotional game," Lake Placid coach Stuart Hemsley said. "This is do-or-die soccer. I've got 13 seniors on this team, and not only are they playing in what could be their last game, they are going for a championship."
The Blue Bombers netted their goal 25:33 into the match when the Thompsons cashed in on a ball mishandled by Patriots' goalkeeper Joshua Taylor. On the play, Nzoni beat Taylor to a ball that was sent in close on the left side of the net. Nzoni gained control of the ball, and instead of trying to get around Taylor for an attempt on net, he sent an on-the-money pass in to Haile, who one-timed a shot into the open goal from the middle of the penalty area.
Lake Placid then held on as AuSable applied loads of pressure the rest of the way in the first half and also generated some chances in the second half. With just about a minute remaining before intermission, Blue Bombers goalkeeper Chris Kordziel made the save of the match when he jumped and just deflected a high shot over the crossbar. Credited for a solid performance in net by Hemsley, Kordziel made seven stops to earn the shutout win. Taylor recorded three saves in a losing effort for the Patriots.
Hemsley also said Ryan Meyer had an outstanding game at sweeper for the Blue Bombers, who are expected to see five players return to the lineup for Thursday's title tilt.
Lake Placid improved to 10-5 overall while AuSable Valley ended its season with a 2-13 mark, most of those setbacks coming to the top programs in Section VII.
"Lake Placid played well," AuSable Valley coach Bob Hamilton said. "They were very aggressive and managed the ball very well. We lost the game with a silly goal. Our guy misplayed the ball and Lake Placid jumped on the opportunity. Our kids played hard, we just couldn't cash in on our chances."
After slipping past the Patriots, the Blue Bombers will face Seton Catholic, which beat Northern Adirondack 3-0 in Friday's late game. Lake Placid swept the Bobcats in two games during the regular season.
"One more game and we will be where we want to be," Hemsley said. "We beat both teams twice, but those wins don't count for nothing now. What counts is next week."
Lake Placid girls stunned by Northern Adirondack
It wasn't the 13th, but it was an unlucky Friday for the state-ranked Blue Bombers girls, who found out Thursday that the semifinal they were supposed to be competing in on Saturday was moved up one day due to a bizarre twist in the Class C playoffs.
The Northern Adirondack squad that wound up defeating Lake Placid actually lost its play-in game by a 4-3 score to Seton Catholic, but later, it was determined that the Knights were competing with ineligible eighth-graders who were pulled up from their modified team, forcing the team to forfeit the match. So instead of facing Seton Catholic Saturday in the first of two girls semifinals, Lake Placid played NAC a day earlier.
Kourtnee Smith netted the only goal of the game, scoring 7:11 into the second half on a top-shelf shot that was assisted by Elle Warick.
Lake Placid coach Heather Brewer, whose team only lost one match in Northern Soccer League Division II action this season, said her players turned in a solid effort but couldn't put the ball in the net.
"We defended well, we sustained offensive pressure, we just couldn't get that finishing play," Brewer said. "It's hard to have a good season and go out in the first round of the playoffs. Sometimes you don't win the one you have to. We knew this was going to be a tough game. We just had one defensive letdown and gave up a goal."
Lake Placid held a 12-8 edge in shots but couldn't put one past Bobcats' keeper Stephanie Snide, who made eight saves to earn the shutout. Liz Leff, one of five seniors playing for the final time in a Lake Placid uniform, recorded six saves in net for the Blue Bombers, who finished with a 12-4-1 record overall.
"Whether it was Friday or Saturday, we were excited to play," Leff said. "I thought we played a good game overall, but the shots did not fall for us today. This was a tough loss, but we did have a great regular season, and we're happy about that."
The Bobcats will face the winner of today's semifinal between Ticonderoga and AuSable Valley. That game will also be Thursday starting at 5 p.m.
Class C semifinal
Lake Placid 1, AuSable Valley 0
|1. LP, H. Thompson (N. Thompson), 25:11|
|Shots: AuSable Valley 10, Lake Placid 5|
|Saves: LP, Kordziel 7; AV, Taylor 3.|
|Class C semifinal|
|Northern Adirondack 1, Lake Placid 0|
|1. NAC, Smith (Elle Warick), 7:11|
|Shots: Lake Placid 12, NAC 8|
|Saves: NAC, Snide 8; LP, Leff 6|