But the Lady Bills shook off a slow start on their way to scoring a pair of second-half goals in a 2-0 Foothills Council victory over Schuylerville at Knox Field.
Kalena Eaton had a goal and an assist for Johnstown, while Jena Barker also scored.
“I’m happy to start with a win,” Johnstown coach Christine Krempa said. “We have a lot of unknowns heading into the season after years of returning seven or eight starters every year.”
The Lady Bills lost eight seniors from last season’s squad that finished 13-1 and shared the Foothills Council title with South Glens Falls. That group included Taryn Ringer, Emily Fleming, Anna Lee, Haley Case, Molly Memrick, Meghan Mraz, Sarah Pratt and Abby VanValkenburgh.
With so many newcomers on the field, Johnstown got off to a sluggish start as Schuylerville pressed the action in the opening minutes of the game.
“Schuylerville definitely came out strong,” Krempa said. “We were on our heels and playing defensively instead of offensively.”
Like Johnstown, Schuylerville has a solid mix of returning players and a host of newcomers.
“We’re kind of old and young at the same time,” Schuylerville coach Erin Lloyd said. “We’ve got a lot of returning players and newcomers, so we’re trying to mesh the two together.”
Both teams failed to find the cage in the opening half as Schuyerville outshot Johnstown by a 6-5 margin. The Lady Bills ended the opening half with a 6-5 edge in penalty corners.
“We had some great spurts,” Lloyd said. “We just didn’t put it together for long enough to get on the board.”
After the break, Johnstown started quickly, as Eaton scored the game’s first goal just 1:30 into the third quarter.
The Lady Bills maintained their one-goal advantage until just 4:29 remained in the game when Barker added an insurance goal on an assist from Eaton following a scramble in front of the Schuylerville net.
“As time went on and we tired, we actually played better,” Krempa said. “In the first half, we carried the ball too long instead of passing it and moving it along.”
The Lady Bills finished the game with a 15-11 edge in shots and a 15-8 advantage in penalty corners.
The win was Johnstown’s eighth straight over the Black Horses. The Lady Bills posted a 9-0 win at home on April 5 and a 5-0 win April 29 at Schuylerville during the “Fall II” season.
In 2018 and 2019, Johnstown also won both regular-season meetings and a playoff matchup with the Black Horses. In 2019, Johnstown notched a 7-0 win over Schuylerville in the Section II Class C title game at Glens Falls.
“We’re going to see them again. They’re always a tough team. They are always in shape and athletic,” Krempa said.
Emilia Haverly finished with 10 saves to post the shutout in goal for Johnstown, while Lizzie Goodspeed made 13 stops for Schuylerville.
“We’re just continuing to build our confidence and keep moving forward,” Krempa said.
Johnstown (1-0 Foothills Council, 1-0 overall) is scheduled to travel to Queensbury on Thursday for a 4:30 p.m. contest.
“Thursday is going to be a tough test for us,” Krempa said. “Queensbury is always tough and we’re playing on grass instead of turf.”
Schuylerville (0-1, 0-1) is slated to travel to Glens Falls on Thursday for a 4:30 p.m. game.
“”We’re still getting our field hockey legs under us,” Lloyd said. “We’re taking it one game at a time this year and trying to get better every time out.”
Schuylerville 0 0 0 0 – 0
Johnstown 0 0 1 1 – 2
Halftime: Tied, 0-0. Schuylerville scoring: None. Johnstown scoring: Eaton 1-1, Barker 1-0. Goalies: Schuylerville, Goodspeed, 13 saves. Johnstown, Haverly, 10 saves.