Saints salute sophomores with win

SARANAC LAKE – The North Country Community College men’s soccer team may have missed making the NJCAA Region III playoffs, and if that does prove to be the case, the Saints still ended the season on a high note.

Playing its final home game of the season on home turf Monday, NCCC topped North Country rival Clinton 1-0 on the strength of a first-half goal by Winterson Joseph, a sophomore from Lantana, Fla.

Joseph netted the goal early in the match off an assist from freshman Jaime Flores-Castellon. The Saints then held off the upset-minded Cougars the rest of the way. NCCC did dodge a bullet with just over 15 minutes left in the match when the Cougars were awarded with a penalty kick. Freshman Kyle McCarthy, however, ripped the shot wide of the net guarded by sophomore goalkeeper Beau Stanford, leaving NCCC on top 1-0.

“We really started to come on strong in the second half, and at that time, we were really putting on the pressure,” Clinton coach Gene Bushey said. “It was unfortunate that PK didn’t go in for us. It’s been kind of the story of the season. We’ve lost six games by just one goal this year.”

The Cougars finished their season with a 2-9-2 mark that included a pair of one-goal setbacks against NCCC. The Saints claimed a 4-3 win in Plattsburgh when the teams met for the first time this fall in September.

The Saints wrapped up the the regular season with an 8-6-1 record. Although the playoff schedule hasn’t been announced yet, NCCC coach Adam DiVincenzo believes his team is a longshot for being selected to compete in the Region III postseason.

“If we don’t make the playoffs, beating a North Country rival in the last game of the season is the next-best thing,” DiVincenzo said. “We made the playoffs with an 8-5-1 record last year, but it’s going to be tough this time around.

“Any time you can finish above .500 playing in the East, you’ve had a good season,” he continued. “I really do believe the East is the best region in the country. This was a good win against a good Clinton team. We’ve had a good group of guys on this team. I’ll miss the sophomores, that’s for sure.”

The Saints held a 22-7 edge in shots.

Stanford, a two-year starter in goal from Murwillumbah, Australia, ended his Saints career on a high note by picking up the shutout victory.

“Last year we were fortunate to make the playoffs,” Stanford said. “I think this game was probably our last one this season, and I like how we finished. Clinton made us work for this win. It was a good match.”