Tired of watching all that lacrosse on TV? If you’re like me, you’re ready for the real thing, up close and personal. And we’re in luck.
The Johnstown High School boys and girls lacrosse teams open the season in their new home March 28 and 29 with seven games in two days.
The new FieldTurf was put in at Knox Field in time for the last couple games of the football season in the fall, which was exciting news for the Sir Bills football program.
It was even more exciting for the two JHS lax teams, who had been playing behind the school on fields that were not always in top condition if the weather was uncooperative. With poor drainage, even the best efforts of the school to have the field ready sometimes fell victim to Mother Nature, who isn’t much of a lacrosse fan.
No more worries about that now.
“Without a doubt, this is going to make our season 1,000 percent better,” JHS girls’ coach Denise Benton said. “I will actually enjoy not worrying about our lines being worn away. It’ll alleviate that stress, not worrying about an official coming in and saying, ‘Your field is unplayable.’ Our school was very good about doing everything they could to make sure our field was ready, but there’s nothing you can do sometimes in that back area.”
Section II officials have told coaches this season that standing water will result in games being called. The girls are scheduled to take the field first this season, if weather cooperates, for a play day March 26 with Colonie, Columbia and Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake. Benton said she is praying for warmer weather to help clear and dry the field.
Another perk of the new field is the Sir Bills and Lady Bills can enjoy playing at a facility with a larger seating capacity than the limited bleachers behind the school. The size and capacity of Knox Field is the big draw for boys’ coach Eric Laugen.
“I was very happy when I heard the field was being put in, primarily because of the atmosphere at Knox,” he said. “The most exciting part for me is the stadium atmosphere.”
Knox is in the middle of a neighborhood, so maybe a few curious Johnstonians will decide to peak in and check out the sport that has made it big in most parts of the state, but been slow to catch on locally.”
“We hope we’ll see a good turnout,” Benton said. “We’ve got a outstanding venue and it’s great for the sport in our area. We hope it’ll give it the exposure it’s needed for several years now. I see it as a good first step for the next several years to come.”
Laugen said playing at Knox allows the Sir Bills to schedule more games in featured slots, like Friday nights at 7 p.m.
“I think that is one of the goals not only of the Foothills Council, but of all the other leagues as well,” he said. “We want the game to become more of a featured event. With our opening games at Knox, we’ve got four games in a row from noon until 8 p.m.”
During the March 28 festivities, those curious enough to poke their heads in will see three girls’ lacrosse games. Cohoes will play Scotia-Glenville, Schenectady will play Schuylerville and Johnstown will open up its season with Holy Names under the lights.
The following day, the boys open the season. First, Saratoga Springs will play Cicero-North Syracuse, followed by Greenwich against Glens Falls and Queensbury against Scotia-Glenville. Johnstown opens its season in the nightcap against Schuylerville.
The Lady Bills are suddenly the most popular kid on the block. Not only are there two games March 28 which don’t involve the Johnstown girls, they are hosting three other contests between neutral teams throughout the year. Albany Academy will face South Glens Falls on April 5, followed by Emma Willard facing Queensbury in the nightcap. In an April 7 nightcap after a Johnstown-Emma Willard match-up, Holy Names will play Glens Falls.
The hope is Knox Field will be dry while the home fields of those visiting schools are still under snow or water.
The boys play nine games at Knox this season and nine on the road. The girls have a slightly home-heavy schedule with 12 games at Knox and eight on the road.
That’s plenty of opportunities for everyone to check out lacrosse at a great new venue.