By James A. Ellis/For The Leader-Herald
JOHNSTOWN — Despite a five-goal performance from Molly Sweeney, Johnstown dropped its Foothills Council opener in double overtime 9-8 to Greenwich in girls’ lacrosse action Wednesday at Knox Field.
Sweeney netted the game-tying goal with 2:48 left in regulation, and Lady Bills goalkeeper Nicole Wendolski stonewalled a MacKenzie Dixson shot in the final minute to send the match into overtime.
Wendolski came up big again in the first overtime period, again stopping a point-blank shot by Dixson. Wendolski’s counterpart, Cate Abate, was equally up to the task as she knocked an attempt by the Lady Bills’ Emily Pertell away to send the match into a second three-minute overtime.
Johnstown gained control of the ball off the faceoff. However, Maeve Kelleher was in the right spot to collect a loose ball and start a run up field before passing the ball off to Molly Abate to collect the game-winner 53 seconds into the second overtime.
First-year Johnstown varsity coach Tom Horning was pleased with the effort he saw from the Lady Bills in their season opener.
“[Assistant] coach [Rob] Berju and I are working very closely with both the boys’ and girls’ teams,” Horning said. “He is the guru, and I am learning a lot as we go along. I just hope the girls have a very good season. That game right there showed that it is going to be a very good year.”
Sweeney finished with five goals for the Lady Bills, while Pertell, Jena Barker and Caroline Krempa had one goal apiece. Wendolski finished with 22 saves for Johnstown.
“Nicole has been doing a lot of work in practice, and she was just lights out tonight. She came up with some close saves that really kept us in the game,” Horning said. “Molly is a stud player and one of the better players on the field. It is tough for her not to shine in a situation like that. All the girls played very well. Coach Berju has been taking them through a lot of offensive plays, so it was not like she is our central focus but tonight was her number.”
For the Witches, Kelleher finished with three goals, while Dixson and Molly Abate had two apiece and Isabelle Miller and Lizzie Mara added one goal each.
The Lady Bills (0-1 Foothills, 0-1 overall) will take to the road to face Queensbury, and Greenwich (1-0, 1-0) will travel to play Schuylerville Friday in Foothills Council matches.
“We have a lot of offensive weapons on this team and have been working hard on our motion offense,” said Berju, who is the Johnstown boys’ varsity head coach. “The girls have really embraced it and are moving the ball well. We are putting a lot of new things in this year with a zone-backer defense and a weave offense that just hasn’t been done. The girls are picking it up and embracing it. Everybody on the field really played great tonight. “
Greenwich 4 4 0 0 1 — 9
Johnstown 5 3 0 0 0 — 8
Greenwich scoring: Kelleher 3-1, Dixson 2-0, M. Abate 2-0, Mara 1-0, Miller 1-0. Johnstown scoring: Sweeney 5-0, Barker 1-0, Pertell 1-0, Krempa 1-0. Goalies: Greenwich, C. Abate 9 saves. Johnstown, Wendolski 22.