QUEENSBURY — The rivalry between this group of seniors has been brewing for years.
It took a few fun twists this fall.
Fort Ann forward Brendan Wright watched Lake George beat Bolton-Warrensburg in September. During the game, Wright exchanged some friendly banter with Lake George goalie Mason Flatley.
“Looking good, orange,” Wright said to Flatley, who was donning an orange goalie fit.
“You always look good in orange,” Flatley responded, joking about Wright’s light red hair. Wright laughed and suggested he’d score on Flatley the next time they played.
Two days later, Lake George beat the Cardinals in a shutout win.
After a Fort Ann victory against Bolton-Warrensburg last week, Wright, who scored the game-winning goal, said he “just wants one more shot at Lake George.”
On Wednesday, Flatley tweeted “Friday can’t come soon enough,” possibly alluding to the Adirondack League boys soccer championship game at Queensbury High School.
All the build-up led to a narrow 2-1 Lake George victory with the go-ahead goal coming off the head of senior Alex Leonelli in the 54th minute, giving the Warriors (16-0) their second consecutive Adirondack title.
“I thought it was a well-played game between two heavyweights,” Cardinals coach Rich McCabe said. “Every time we have a championship format like this, it has been us against them. Some years it is their turn and some years it is our turn.”
Prior to Friday, Lake George had not allowed a goal in league play. Flatley leads the area in shutouts with 14. The Warriors’ lone letup came during a 3-1 win against Greenville on Sept. 8.
That changed when Wright and Flatley met in a penalty kick showdown during the first half. Trailing 1-0, Wright beat Flatley when the 6-foot-3 keeper guessed wrong, jumping right when Wright went left.
The senior captain made good on his promise to score on Flatley, beating him upper left and tying the game 1-1.
Early in the second half, Lake George executed a set-piece worthy of a game-winner. Taking a free kick near the left sideline, Kegan Helms dropped a rainbow ball into the box that found a pealing Leonelli.
Alone in front, Leonelli elevated, connecting on a header that beat Cardinals goalie Richie Jones by a mile.
“Me and Kegan hook up on that play all the time,” Leonelli said. “He drops in the ball just perfectly and it is up to me to go get it.”
Fort Ann had its chances late. A few rushes nearly resulted in the equalizer. But the Warriors defense, led by Flatley held on for the win.
After the game, Flatley and Wright found each other before boarding their respective buses. It is the last time these two will compete against each other on a soccer field. But considering Lake George is the No. 1 team in Class C, and Fort Ann is ranked sixth in Class D, there is likely a lot more soccer left to play for both clubs.
“It is harder playing these guys because they know the way we play,” Leonelli said. “Growing up, playing with them and against them, it is a great rivalry that brings the best out of us.”