PLATTSBURGH - A new coach, loads of seniors and a junior goalkeeper turned out to be the right formula to help the Lake Placid boys team make a historic run this season.
After winning just five times a year ago, the Blue Bombers more than doubled that number of victories this fall, and on Thursday, they notched the biggest one ever for their school, posting a 2-0 win over Seton Catholic in the Section VII, Class C championship game at Plattsburgh High School.
Senior Haile Thompson netted both Blue Bombers goals, one in each half, and goalie Chris Kordziel notched his second shutout in as many playoff games to help Lake Placid win its first boys soccer championship in the history of the school.
Haile Thompson celebrates his second goal of the game that lifted Lake Placid into a 2-0 lead and all but sealed a victory for the Blue Bombers in Thursday’s Section VII, Class C championship game against Seton Catholic at Plattsburgh High School.
(Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)
Under first-year coach Stuart Hemsley, who played professional soccer in England, Lake Placid evolved from a sub .500 team to a championship squad that was the top seed heading into the Class C playoffs. Thompson, who also netted Lake Placid's only goal in a 1-0 semifinal win over AuSable Valley a week ago, said Hemsley, along with plenty of confidence among more than a dozen seniors on the team played a big roll in the Bombers taking the title.
"We didn't have a good record the past two years and when I found out that Stuart was going to be our coach, I was absolutely thrilled," Thompson said. "He's been one of my coaches since I was five or six, and he's the best coach there is. We knew this could be our year. More than anything, we've been talking about winning a championship since the summer.
"This is the biggest win I've ever been a part of," Thompson added. "It feels great. It's inexplicable. I'll remember this night forever."
Thompson lifted Lake Placid to a 1-0 edge on a goal with 5:02 left in the first half. On the play, Thompson got a pass from Keegan Barney along the sideline and drove toward the goal. Thompson ripped a shot that was saved by the Knights keeper Keegan Briggs, but the rebound went right back to the forward and he one-timed it into the net.
The Blue Bombers then clinched their first sectional title with just under 13 minutes left in the match when Thompson headed in a corner kick that Andrew Meister launched into the center of the penalty area.
After blanking AuSable Valley in the semifinals, Kordziel was sharp again in the Blue Bombers net. He made five saves against the Knights, but they were tough ones.
"Again, Chris had a clean sheet, and that's a no-hitter for a pitcher," Hemsley said. "If we don't concede any goals, we don't lose."
Heading into the season, Hemsley said the only games the Blue Bombers really needed to win were the two victories they just captured during the past week. The rest of the season was geared toward preparing for the playoffs, but sweeps of both Class C teams, Northern Adirondack and Seton Catholic, during the regular season were confidence builders.
"We beat the teams all year that we had to beat, but it didn't mean a thing heading into the playoffs," Hemsley said. "The team won five times last season, and we needed to win two this year. If we got those two wins, we'd be putting up the first banner in the history of the school. We did that and won nine more in between."
Hemsley knew he had some athletes on the team this season, and said one of his goals was to help turn them into more skilled soccer players. On Thursday, the Blue Bombers showed their coach that was indeed the case.
"Our team is fast, and when you add speed and skill together, you have a team that's tough to beat," Hemsley said. "I was told that this team is a fine bunch of kids with a lot of attitude. I hope they have that attitude in our next game."
Lake Placid will next play the winner of a matchup between the Section X and Section II champions. The game will be played next weekend at Plattsburgh, with the time to be announced.
Lake Placid 2, Seton Catholic 0
1. LP, H. Thompson (Barney), 34:58.
2. LP, H. Thompson (Meister), 27:21.
Shots: Lake Placid 12, Seton Catholic 5.