Clifton Park

Shenendehowa boys’ soccer shuts out Saratoga Springs

Shenendehowa’s Emir Cekic, left, handles the ball during Friday's game against Saratoga Springs. (Peter R. Barber)

Shenendehowa’s Emir Cekic, left, handles the ball during Friday's game against Saratoga Springs. (Peter R. Barber)

Categories: -The Daily Gazette, High School Sports, Sports

CLIFTON PARK — Conor Brown assisted on Shenendehowa’s first goal Friday, then made his presence felt throughout the Plainsmen’s matchup with rival Saratoga Springs.

And, after helping Shenendehowa to a 2-0 Suburban Council win, he stayed humble.

“I’m just a sophomore,” Brown said. “I’m just trying to make my way onto the team and stick there.”

Brown’s ability to settle the ball and then find his teammates led to the assist on the first goal, helping him earn strong praise from his head coach after the Plainsmen’s win.

“He was the impact player tonight,” Shenendehowa coach Jon Bain said. “About every ball that he put in was dynamite.”

Zak Smith helped put the Plainsmen (9-0-1) on the scoreboard midway through the first half. Brown timed a crossing pass from the left side that sailed onto Smith’s right foot, who then sent the ball into the far side of the goal.

“Before I’m making a run, I’m always looking up to see who is coming with me and I know where they’re going to be,” Brown said.

Down at halftime, Saratoga Springs (5-2-3) was aggressive in the second half, putting seven shots on goal, pressuring Shenendehowa goalie Noah Flint. The Blue Streaks, though, never could find their way past Flint.

“We did a little bit of chasing and then we definitely put on a lot pressure in the second half,” Saratoga Springs coach Jeff Geller said. “When we put on pressure and get numbers forward, [Shenendehowa is] very disciplined and they win the ball, then they’re countering and making us pay sometimes.”

One reversal of fortune led to Plainsmen junior Emer Cekic retrieving a ball inside the box and going 1-on-1 against Blue Streak goalie Tyler Munter. Cekic made Munter commit, then delivered a second score for the Plainsmen with 14 minutes left in the contest.

“I feel both sides were pretty technical and tactical,” Geller said. “They just got to every ball today a split second before we did.”

After the Plainsmen took its initial lead, the Shenendehowa defense did its part to secure the team’s fifth shutout victory of the year.

“The guys matched up tight. If the guy stepping up to the ball didn’t win it, the player behind them did, or the player coming back to double the ball,” Bain said.

Smith, when not scoring the eventual game-winning goal, was a key to holding back the Blue Streaks’ pressure.

“He seemed to be in the thick of everything,” Bain said.

Both squads have two regular-season contests next week before competing in the Suburban Council tournament, which begins Nov. 17.

“We’ve had a great run of form recently and put some good games together, and we’ve been improving every match. We were really excited about today,” Geller said. “We’ll take it, we’ll get better and we’ll try to improve on that going forward.”

Halftime score: Shenendehowa 1, Saratoga 0. Saratoga Springs scoring: None. Shenendehowa scoring: Smith 1-0, Cekic 1-0, Brown 0-1, Brignati 0-1. Goalies: Saratoga Springs, Munter, 4 saves. Shenendehowa, Flint, 7 saves.

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