SARANAC LAKE — The North Country Community College women's soccer team held its own in the first half of a home game against Herkimer Community College, but couldn't fend off the No. 1-ranked team in the country Wednesday. The Generals topped the Saints 4-1.
Herkimer came out strong against the injury-depleted Saints, but the home team's defense held. The Generals had no shortage of chances on goal, including a shot at the 26-minute mark that went off the crossbar, but NCCC fended off the visitors until a few minutes later.
With 23 minutes, 25 seconds left in the first half, HCC's Kristen Purcell fed the ball to Haley Harrington for the first score of the game.
But the Saints weren't out of it, as less than 30 seconds later Alicia Cook got the assist on a goal scored by Nidia DeArmaYero. Cook brought the ball into the left side of the box and put a shot on net, where DeArmaYero beat HCC keeper Rachel Todd to the ball and found the back of the net on the near post.
NCCC kept the score even for another 20 minutes, but the Generals' Ashley Capron put one away 10 seconds before halftime on an assist from Sarah George to put HCC on top 2-1 going into intermission.
In the second half, Saints defender Camille Craig, of Lake Placid, scored an own-goal five minutes in, and the Generals kept on rolling from there. With 31 minutes left in the contest, George got a goal of her own on an assist by Purcell to finish out the scoring.
Todd had four saves on the day, while her teammates put 17 shots on the NCCC net. Saints goalkeeper Anna Thrasher had 13 saves.
With the win, Herkimer improved to 7-0 on the season, but coach Jason Palkovic said playing at NCCC is always a challenge.
"I feel good getting out of here with a win," Palkovic said. "We've never come in and blown them out. Whether it's the trip or the atmosphere, it's always a tough place to play. There's just something about this place.
"I give Kent (Egglefield) a lot of credit, because his girls are always ready to play."
NCCC moved to 4-4-1 for the year, but Saranac Lake native and NCCC sweeper Katie Holvik said she sees some promise in her squad.
"For playing one of the best teams, I think we played pretty well," the sophomore said. "I think we are trying to stay positive as much as possible. We're definitely keeping each other in the game (and) helping each other out as much as possible.
"We try to be a family as much as we can. We just need to talk more; but overall, for the team we played I think we did pretty well."
The Saints' roster has been depleted by injury, and freshman Rosie Bamber went out of the match with an ankle injury. But coach Egglefield said his team did well.
"I think we did great for 44 minutes and 50 seconds," he said. "If we hadn't given up the goal with 10 seconds left in the half I think it's a completely different game because that's a lot of momentum going into the half.
"But it's the No. 1 team in the nation, and for 44 minutes we played with them. And I don't think we necessarily did bad in the second half, it's just that we're down eight people (due to injury)."
Egglefield said that one upshot of all the injuries is that the bench is getting more experience, which should help as the season goes on.
"I thought Maddie Moon, who came in today, played great for a girl who's never really played soccer before. It was good to see a player like that step up when she was given a chance," he said. "Girls who don't have a lot of experience playing came through today. And when we finally get healthy going down the stretch, we know we've got more viable options for substitutes when needed.
"If you had told me before the game we were going to lose 4-1, I probably would have said 'That's not bad.' But then to see we were better than we should have been, it just bothers me that the score ended up the way it did."
The Saints have back-to-back away games on Friday and Saturday this week, and are home next Wednesday to face Middlebury College's junior varsity team.