SCHUYLERVILLE — The Johnstown boys’ lacrosse team’s fingernails were allowed to take the regular season off this spring, through blowout after blowout.
The Sir Bills finally got in the nail-biter of all nail-biters on Tuesday, and managed to scratch out a 10-9 victory over Schuylerville in the Section II Class D championship game at Black Horse Stadium.
Bryce Mureness tied it at 9-9 with all of 10.3 seconds left in regulation, and freshman Ryan Hoyt rocketed a low, lefty shot past Schuylerville goalie Colin Gary 1:21 into overtime to win it.
That finished off a 13-0 season that head coach Scott Petrie believed would be a rebuilding year after losing a large group of seniors to graduation after the pandemic-canceled 2020 season.
“The thought of a rebuild was there, but as soon as that first practice came around, there was no doubt in our minds,” said senior Chase Benton, who assisted on Mureness’ game-tying goal.
“We had goals. We wanted to win the Wasaren, score more than 10 goals every game, under five goals [given up] every game. We did that throughout the season, and our next goal was sectional championship.”
“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 dominated the first quarter and led 4-1.
Zach Bowen scored Schuylerville (8-6) with 5.2 seconds left in the first half to tie it at 6-6, and the score was tied three times in the second half, with the Black Horses holding leads of 7-6 and 9-8.
The Sir Bills went up 8-7 when Damion Waight scored with 4.6 seconds left in the third quarter.
Carson Griffin’s fifth goal of the game got the Black Horses to an 8-8 tie with 6:05 left, and Landen Cumm gave Schuylerville a 9-8 lead with 4:53 to play.
Gary made a huge save on Hoyt right in front with 1:52 left, but in the hectic closing moments of regulation, he couldn’t stop Mureness on a Johnstown goal in transition, on the feed from Benton.
“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.”
“We’ve been doing that all year,” Benton said. “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. We worked all season on those transition goals.”
Overtime was a new experience for a team used to beating opponents by more than a dozen goals, but the Johnstown coaches ran a play that would give one of their best shooters a chance to end it, and the freshman Hoyt did.
“I don’t know what to say, honestly. We had a play for me, and I just shot it,” he said. “I was just trying to get over the top and get open.
“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.
“That’s our big lefty shooter right there. That’s our guy,” Benton said. “If we need a goal like that, we’re looking at him. That’s our main target.
“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.”
In the Class C championship game at Black Horse Stadium, Josh Sanders scored with 3.5 seconds left in regulation to give South Glens Falls a 15-14 over LaSalle.
Schuylerville 1 5 1 2 — 9
Johnstown 4 2 2 1 1 — 10
Schuylerville scoring: Griffin 5-0, Carozza 0-1, Peck 1-2, Bowen 2-1, Solan 0-1, Cumm 1-0. Johnstown scoring: C. Mureness 1-0, Benton 1-2, Hoyt 3-1, Wheelis 1-0, Petrie 0-1, Arminio 1-0, B. Mureness 2-2, Waight 1-0.
Goalies: Schuylerville, Gary, 7 saves; Johnstown, Salamack, 7 saves.