SARATOGA SPRINGS – There were moments during Tuesday’s Suburban Council boys’ soccer game that Saratoga Springs coach Jeff Geller sounded like a culinary instructor reminding his chefs to not spoil their meals with too many ingredients.
He spoke the word “simple” a bunch of times, and by the end it produced a palate-pleasing result for him, as the Blue Streaks defeated Albany 3-1.
“We have a lot of very technical and tactical players who know how to play,” Geller said. “We have a lot of very skilled players, and it’s when they start to do a little too much themselves where we kind of fall apart and turn the ball over in poor spots. If we can play simple, we’ll create much better opportunities for us to score.”
The Blue Streaks (4-0-1 league, 5-0-1 overall), ranked 15th in the latest state Class AA poll, also have a lot of players, including 17 seniors. That was a luxury that Albany (2-3-1, 2-3-2) didn’t have, as four players were injured prior to Tuesday, and a couple others were playing less than 100 percent.
“We have a lot of talented players who aren’t starting, so we’re doing some man management, and it’s super nice to have some very talented players come off the bench and give us some good minutes, and our team level doesn’t drop a bit,” Geller said.
Nonetheless, the Falcons took a 1-0 lead at 25:03 when defender Tamim Rahmani ripped a long shot perfectly over the goalie into the upper part of the net.
“It was a brilliant effort,” Albany coach David Weiss said of the goal.
Saratoga Springs tied the score at 31:56 when Ryan Farr’s corner kick came through to Flagg Taylor in the box, and he put it in.
The pair connected again at 50:22, as Farr’s corner kick went off an Albany defender and right to Taylor, who scored from straight away to give the Blue Streaks the go-ahead goal.
“I’ve been playing with a lot of these kids on the club team since I was 7, so we’ve been clicking for a while,” Taylor said of the teamwork Saratoga Springs has shown so far this season.
At 63:09, Rahmani earned his second yellow card of the game, and Albany’s numbers problems were exacerbated, as the Falcons had to play a man down the rest of the game and lose Rahmani for the next two games. Even before that, though, Weiss felt his team was showing tired legs and not getting its possession game going.
Theo Paladini scored Saratoga Springs’ final goal from the top of the box at 66:30.
The game ended with the Blue Streaks feeling confident in their process, and Albany still searching for defensive consistency.
“I think we’ve been passing well and moving the ball and not being selfish,” Taylor said. “I’m confident. I think we’re as good as any team. I think we can beat any team in the Suburban Council.”
“When they play that way – simple and quick – the sky’s the limit for us this year,” Geller said.
Weiss, however, is starting to see an unwelcome pattern from his team.
“If you’re up on varsity, it’s because I believe in you and I’m going to use you,” Weiss said. “My frustration is there’s a lack of conviction. To concede the balls we’ve been conceding, which are dead balls to the box that we can’t defend, that’s criminal.”
Albany 1 0 – 1
Saratoga Springs 1 2 – 3
Albany scoring: Tamim Rahmani 1-0. Saratoga scoring: Flagg Taylor 2-0, Theo Paladini 1-0, Ryan Farr 0-2. Goalies: Albany, Brian Milligan. Saratoga Springs, Liam Donnelly; Luke Henderson.