JOHNSTOWN — They came in as the No. 1 seed in the Section II Class C tournament, but the Johnstown field hockey team entered Wednesday’s semifinal against Schuylerville having not played a game in 13 days and having gone 20 days since the last time the Lady Bills both won a game and scored a goal.
Johnstown coach Christine Krempa, whose team had a bye into the semis, said her team may have felt the effect of that rust for a little while on Wednesday, but after 45 minutes of controlling the game without a goal to show for it, the breakthrough finally came.
“I like that quarterfinal game,” Krempa said. “I think it gets the jitters out of everybody — myself and the girls.”
Cole Krempa scored a pair of goals three minutes apart early in the fourth quarter, and Emily Pertell added an insurance goal a few minutes later as the Lady Bills shrugged off a stubborn Schuylerville team for a 3-0 victory.
The win earned Johnstown (No. 1 seed, 11-3 overall) a trip back to the Class C championship game, where it will face No. 2 seed Hoosick Falls on Sunday at noon at Schuylerville High School. Hoosick Falls posted a 2-0 win over Granville in the other semifinal.
It’s a game the Lady Bills are greatly anticipating, considering the team is still the reigning Section II Class C champions, having won the tournament en route to a state runner-up finish in 2019, when area field hockey championships were not contested. The tournament was not held during the 2020-21 school year due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“We’re wearing our white [home] uniforms on Sunday,” Cole Krempa said, “and we want that white [championship] patch.”
It was Cole Krempa who allowed Johnstown a chance to breathe after a tense first 45 minutes that saw the Schuylerville (No. 4 seed, 9-9 overall) defense refuse to break despite spending the majority of the game in its own defensive zone.
A corner resulted in a mad scramble in front of the goal, with the ball ultimately being knocked away from Schuylerville goalie Lizzie Goodspeed and batted home by Krempa, a sophomore forward.
“It got the momentum going,” Cole Krempa said. “It got the team hyped up to score another one.”
“That goal was kind of a deflation,” Schuylerville coach Erin Lloyd said. “They weren’t able to build back up after that.”
Three minutes later, another corner doubled the lead, but with a little bit more style. The ball was played to Kalena Eaton, who lifted a cross over the entire Schuylerville defense that Cole Krempa was able to redirect out of midair and into the goal.
“We work on that one a lot,” Christine Krempa said. “It was a nice goal. We’ve scored on that one three times this year.”
“I think they needed to put a few in the cage,” she added, “to remember what it feels like.”
Cole Krempa left the game in the final minute when a clearing pass from close range caught her just below the right knee, but while the sophomore had the knee wrapped and iced post-game, she said she was feeling “fine.”
Johnstown goalie Emilia Haverly wasn’t tested for much of the game, but made a couple of key second-half saves, including a stop on Eliza Barton that ended up springing Eaton to go the other way in transition. That run ended in Pertell’s tally, which guaranteed Johnstown’s trip to Sunday’s championship game.
“We haven’t had playoffs in two years,” Christine Krempa said. “I reminded the girls that we’ve got to get our legs under us. But, I’m super happy with our effort.”
Schuylerville 0 0 0 0 — 0
Johnstown 0 0 0 3 — 3
Schuylerville scoring: None. Johnstown scoring: Krempa 2-0, Pertell 1-0, Eaton 0-1, Barker 0-1. Goalies: Schuylerville, Goodspeed, 9 saves. Johnstown, Haverly, 4 saves.