NAC bests AuSable Valley in penalty kicks

Northern Adirondack’s Steven Peryea (middle) is mobbed by teammates after scoring the game-winning penalty kick during Wednesday’s Section VII Class C semifinal soccer game against AuSable Valley at the Plattsburgh High Athletic Complex.

PLATTSBURGH — Steven Peryea was the eighth Northern Adirondack player to take a shot during Wednesday’s shootout, and he was confident he was going to win the game.

“After (Josh Juntunen) missed that PK, he said, ‘You’re up next.’ And after (AuSable Valley’s Ian Rennie) missed it, I knew I was going to bury it,” Peryea said. “I was just going to kick it hard and place it in a corner. That’s all. And hopefully bury it.”

He did exactly that, putting the ball in the top-right corner to give the Bobcats a victory in the Section VII Class C boys’ soccer semifinals at the Plattsburgh High School Athletic Complex.

“It was nothing I can describe. It was awesome,” Peryea said of watching the ball hit the twine. “That was probably the biggest shot in my life.”

The game required PKs because the teams remained tied at 1-1 after regulation and two 15-minute, golden-goal overtime sessions.

No. 2 seed Northern Adirondack (4-6) earned a spot in the championship game Oct. 29 against No. 1 seed Lake Placid.

In the first round of the shootout, each team made three shots, with AuSable Valley goalkeeper Lucas Finnegan saving one shot. Then it went to sudden death.

The Patriots’ Alex Knapp and the Bobcats’ Cory LaFountain both put their shots in, and Ethan King and Finnegan stopped the next two shots.

AuSable Valley’s third attempt in sudden death went high, giving Peryea a chance to end it.

“Tough loss. The kids are pretty upset about it, but they played hard (Wednesday),” AuSable Valley coach Bob Hamilton said. “I thought Northern Adirondack actually carried the play. They did a really nice job moving the ball. We struggled a little bit with maintaining any kind of possession.

“And they hustled very hard; they were very aggressive. Clearly they’re a very good team.”

King finished with 12 saves for the Bobcats, including three in overtime.

LaFountain gave Northern Adirondack a lead 11:28 into the game when he took a through ball, crossed it to Juntunen and then ran up to tap in the rebound.

The Bobcats outshot the third-seeded Patriots 9-4 in the second half, but it was AuSable Valley that scored the only goal. Zach Cosgrove floated a shot over King’s head in the middle of the half.

The Patriots (0-16-1) hung on for the rest of regulation with the help of Finnegan, who made two diving saves and stopped a point-blank shot to keep the score knotted. He dove to block another shot in overtime, bringing his teammates on the bench to their feet.

“Lucas did an amazing job,” Hamilton said. “He’s a field player who converted to a goalie this year. He’s actually better in the field than he is as a keeper, but he was just miraculous out there (Wednesday). Made some unbelievable saves.”

Finnegan totaled 19 stops.

Hamilton said the Patriots attacked in the first overtime because they knew they had the strong wind at their backs, and then they just tried survive the second extra period. The Bobcats kept the ball almost entirely in their offensive end in the second overtime and fired two shots on goal.

Northern Adirondack coach Pat Kelleher wouldn’t mind if the championship game was not quite such a nail-biter.

“It was a great game. Hopefully exciting for the fans,” he said. “Too much for my heart, though.”

Northern Adirondack 1, AuSable Valley 1 (2OT)

(Northern Adirondack wins in penalty kicks 5-4)

AuSable Valley 0 1 0 0 — 1

Northern Adirondack 1 0 0 0 — 1

First half- 1, NAC, LaFountain (Juntunen), 28:32.

Second half- 2, AVC, Cosgrove (Knapp), 18:15.

Shots: AuSable Valley 13, Northern Adirondack 20.

Saves: Finnegan, AVC, 19. King, NAC, 12.

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Twitter: @sportsCourt

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Courtney Lewis grew up in Michigan and joined the Press-Republican in 2004. She covers NCAA hockey, high school football and other local sports.

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