No Better Day

The Johnstown boys lacrosse team poses with its sectional plaque and patches after defeating Schuylerville in the Section II Class D championship game at Black Horse Stadium in Schuylerville. (The Leader-Herald/Paul Wager)

SCHUYLERVILLE — It was worth the wait.

After losing to Schuylerville in the 2019 Section II Class D title game, the Johnstown boys lacrosse team had to wait two years for a rematch.

The Sir Bills made the most of it, edging the Black Horses, 10-9, in overtime in the Section II Class D championship game on Tuesday at Black Horse Field.

Freshman Ryan Hoyt netted the game-winning goal just 21 seconds into overtime on assist from Bryce Mureness to help Johnstown avenge their 2019 loss. Bryce Mureness also scored the game-tying goal with just 10.3 seconds left in regulation to force overtime.

“We wanted them last year. When we came back this year, we wanted to see Schuylerville in the finals,” Johnstown senior Chase Benton said. “This win is for the seniors from two years ago, last year’s seniors and this year’s seniors. It feels amazing to go out with a win.”

Hoyt finished with three goals and an assist to lead the Sir Bills’ offense, while Bryce Mureness had two goals and two assists. Benton had a goal and two assists, and Caden Mureness had a goal and an assist. Matt Wheelis, Cam Arminio and Damien Waight also scored for Johnstown, while Ethan Petrie added an assist.

Carson Griffin led Schuylerville with five goals, while Zach Bowen had two goals and an assist. Hansen Peck had a goal and two assists for the Black Horses, and Landen Cumm also scored.

When the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out the 2020 spring season, the Sir Bills were left with another year to contemplate the 16-2 loss to the Black Horses that ended their 2019 season.

Having lost 13 seniors from the 2020 squad, Johnstown also was left wondering what it had coming into the 2021 campaign.

“It was a long stretch, a surprising stretch,” Petrie said. “We lost 13 seniors. Last year was our year. So we actually came in thinking we were rebuilding this year. Credit our youth program. We’re way out west, so we don’t have the opportunities to play these club teams, so we do a lot of in-house work, and it starts at that youth level. We filled it right in when all those kids left.”

The Sir Bills got off a quick start Tuesday, scoring the first three goals of the game.

Caden Mureness netted the opening goal with 10:34 left in the first quarter before Benton scored to make it 2-0 with 8:10 left in the opening quarter.

Hoyt scored his first of the game on a Benton assist with 7:15 left in the quarter to make it 3-0.

Schuylerville finally got on the board with 4:15 left in the first quarter when Griffin scored on an assist from Bowen.

However, Wheelis answered for Johnstown with 2:50 to play in the opening quarter on an assist from Ethan Petrie to make it 4-1 after 12 minutes of play.

The Black Horses outscored the Sir Bills 5-2 in the second quarter to tie the game at 6-6, marking the first time all season Johnstown hadn’t led at the break.

Griffin and Bowen each scored twice in the second quarter for Schuylerville, while Peck scored once.

Hoyt and Arminio scored second-quarter goals for the Sir Bills.

With all but one game this season decided by 10 goals or more, the Sir Bills found themselves in a back-and-forth battle the rest of the way.

“We haven’t had a game like this all year, a close game, but this shows our dedication, because we worked all week on those transition goals,” Benton said. We worked all season on those transition goals.”

Griffin scored the first goal of the second half with 5:23 left in the third quarter to give the Black Horses a 7-6 lead.

Johnstown responded with a goal from Bryce Mureness on an assist from Cade Mureness to tie the game at 7-7 with 1:15 left.

Waight scored on an assist from Bryce Mureness with just 4.6 seconds left in the third quarter to give Johnstown an 8-7 lead heading into the fourth.

Griffin opened the fourth-quarter scoring on an assist from Peck to tie the game at 8-8 before Cumm gave the Back Horses a 9-8 lead on an assist from Peck with 4:53 to play.

Coming into the game, Johnstown had given up only 22 goals all season and their previous high for goals allowed in a game was four.

The Sir Bills got one last chance in regulation and tied it up when Bryce Mureness scored on an assist from Benton with just 10.3 seconds left in the game.

“All year long, we’ve been really riding hard and get into transition,” Petrie said. “Basically, our offense is transition, so we’re really comfortable in that, so any time down the stretch, we see ourselves pushing hard, we spread out harder and went after the ball and got it off the ground and went down and scored.”

In the overtime session, Johnstown started with the ball in its possession due to a Schuylerville penalty on Bryce Mureness’ goal.

The Sir Bills made the most of their opportunity, getting the ball to Hoyt, who ripped a left-handed shot into the net for the game-ending goal.

“I was a little bit worried, and then when Bryce made that goal, it made me a little less worried. I knew we were going to win from there.”

“We want to put it in Hoyt’s stick to finish the game,” Petrie said.

Benton echoed his coach’s sentiment.

“That’s our big lefty shooter right there. That’s our guy,” he said. “If we need a goal like that, we’re looking at him. That’s our main target.

Hoyt’s goal gave Johnstown its first sectional title since it won the Class C title in 2008.

It also crossed the final goal off the list for the Sir Bills this season.

“We had goals. We wanted to win the Wasaren, score more than 10 goals every game, under five goals [given up] every game,” Benton said. “We did that throughout the season, and our next goal was a sectional championship.”

Senior goalie Kyle Salamack made eight saves for Johnstown. Collin Garry finished with 11 saves for Schuylerville.

With the New York State Public High School Athletic Association cancelling the state tournaments this academic year due to COVID-19 pandemic concerns, the Sir Bills wrap-up their season with a 12-0 record, while Schuylerville finished with an 8-6 mark.

It was a memorable final game for Johnstown seniors Jack Haverly, Kenny Boger, Caden Mureness, Benton, Waight, and Salamack, who found themselves in the closest game they faced all season.

“No nerves. We all knew this was going to be a close game. Just keep your heads high knowing that a play can happen at any time. To finish my high school career and this season like that, with my guys, man, that’s deep for me. I’m just trying to soak all of it in and be happy. Coach Petrie has been my coach since second, third grade. I’ll remember this my whole life.”

By Paul Wager