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PPR SPORTS NAC soccer 0920
Northern Adirondack's Darien Velasquez (bottom) takes out Elizabethtown-Lewis' Wesley Whalen with a sliding tackle while going for the ball during Thursday's varsity boy's soccer game in Ellenburg. (P-R PHOTO/GABE DICKENS)

Bobcats benefit from fortunate bounce

By: RICKY ST. CLAIR Press-Republican

ELLENBURG — Tied 0-0 with more than four minutes remaining in double overtime, the Northern Adirondack boys’ soccer team needed a bounce to go its way Thursday.

It got one in the most unusual of circumstances.

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With an Elizabethtown-Lewis defender inadvertently flicking a loose ball into his own net, the Bobcats picked up a 1-0 win in Northern Soccer League play.

“This is the third overtime in two years that we’ve had with them,” Northern Adirondack coach Patrick Kelleher said. “We gave them an own goal last year, and I feel like they’ve returned it for us.

“Both teams played hard. Both teams are fairly even. They’ve got some real good skill players who did a lot of damage in the middle. Once we made some adjustments to contain that, we got a little bit better and had a few more chances.”

Forty-eight hours removed from a 5-0 loss to Seton Catholic, the Bobcats came out firing on all cylinders. Northern Adirondack maintained a 4-1 advantage in shots on goal in the first 25 minutes of play.

Kelleher, however, said his team was a little flat in the early going.

“We have trouble getting going in the first half,” Kelleher said. “I thought our energy was not where it should have been. I think we really need to get our intensity going sooner.”

After the two teams exited the pitch for halftime, the Lions responded with multiple scoring chances of their own.

“I was pleased with the way we came out,” Elizabethtown-Lewis coach Paul Buehler said. “My right midfielder didn’t serve the ball once in the first half. The second half was better. We were implementing a few things.”

The two teams remained scoreless for the rest of the second half, but a red card put the Lions down a player with 2:06 showing on the clock.

Northern Adirondack controlled play during the first of two overtime sessions, kicking two shots on target. With time about to expire, Brady Smart floated a ball from the 18-yard box over the crossbar and missed a golden-goal opportunity by mere feet.

“I felt like he was coming in fast,” Buehler said. “Right when I looked up, I saw my keeper had good positioning. He can get to the near-side post, and he can get to the ground pretty quickly. Those are the moments where everybody’s in position and organized and everything goes well.”

Despite being down a player, Buehler used speed to his advantage and sent a forward streaking up the middle in the second extra session. It generated offense and produced two corner kicks.

“We didn’t have the gas to handle the ball in transition slowly, and they weren’t going to let us,” Buehler said. “They were going to close our space, so I said, ‘Let’s play forward fast.’ That worked putting the ball into their third. We were banging it forward, but when you do that, you string your guys out. It’s a price you pay.”

Ethan King was credited with the win between the pipes for the Bobcats, registering 12 saves in the match.

“Positionally, he’s very good,” Kelleher said. “He doesn’t have to do a lot of diving. He gets in the right places.”

Because Darien Velasquez was the last Northern Adirondack player to touch the ball before the own goal, the sophomore forward was credited with the game’s lone tally.

The Bobcats have a bye Tuesday before traveling to Willsboro for another Division II match next Thursday.

“We were very down in our last game,” Kelleher said. “We didn’t play well, and we didn’t have any intensity. We got outworked; we didn’t get outplayed. This game was better, and we’ll just keep hoping to build on this.”

Northern Adirondack 1, Elizabethtown-Lewis 0 (2OT)

Elizabethtown-Lewis 0 0 0 0 — 0

Northern Adirondack 0 0 0 1 — 1

Double overtime- 1, NAC, Velasquez, 5:49.

Shots: Northern Adirondack 14. Elizabethtown-Lewis 13.

Saves: King, NAC, 11. Lapier, ELCS, 10.