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Schools of thought: Sir Bills new and improved

November 2, 2009
By BILL CAIN, The Leader-Herald

The Johnstown boys soccer team wasn't happy with just finishing the season stronger than the team started it - now the team wants the Section II Class B championship.

The Sir Bills, seeded ninth after a 5-9-2 regular season, beat No. 8 Coxsackie-Athens 3-1 in a game that didn't feel that close. Then they went to top-seeded Tamarac and came away with a 2-1 victory.

Now Johnstown is in the semifinals against No. 5 Schuylerville (9-6-3) a game away from possibly meeting up with the No. 2 seed for the championship.

It's a team they're familiar with, too. Broadalbin-Perth beat Johnstown 2-0 and 3-0 this season.

The old saying goes, "It's hard to beat a team three times."

I don't necessarily agree. I understand the reasoning: The team you've beaten twice knows what you're going to do.

OK, but you've done it twice and they haven't been able to stop it. If you've beaten a team twice, you should know how to do it.

It doesn't always work like that, though. Look at the Fort Plain girls soccer team, which had lost twice to St. Johnsville/Oppenheim-Ephratah, both times 3-2 in overtime. Saturday, the Lady Hilltoppers beat St. Joe's 2-1 in sudden-death overtime.

So if the old-saying folks are right, maybe Johnstown has an edge against the Patriots.

What makes it hard for anyone playing Johnstown right now is the fact this is not the same Sir Bills team that started the season 1-9-2.

They've won six games in a row - three against Class A schools, one against an AA school, two of them against higher-seeded sectional opponents and one of them top-seeded Tamarac.

Still, let's put that in perspective. Tamarac and Schuylerville play in the Wasaren League, Johnstown and B-P in the Foothills Council. The Foothills is tougher for the Bs, but that gets no consideration in seeding for boys soccer. Tamarac's league record earned it the top seed, but Broadalbin was and remains the top team in the bracket.

Of course, they still have to beat No. 3 Schalmont to get to the finals.

Regardless of how or when the season ends, the late-fall Johnstown run saved the season for the Sir Bills. They started the season with tournament ties against Scotia-Glenville and Gloversville.

Those two ties brought with them a lot of excitement about the rest of the season. Last fall, the Sir Bills were 2-14-2 overall and 1-11-2 in the Foothills Council, so it seemed Johnstown's program had turned a corner.

That had to make the next 10 games sting just a little more.

In their first 10 Foothills Council games, the Sir Bills won once, over a Hudson Falls team that finished the conference season 0-14-0.

Then they beat Scotia-Glenville for the first time in over a decade.

Then they beat Gloversville the next night, on the road.

Then they beat Queensbury, effectively knocking the Spartans from the race for the Foothills Council championship.

Then, and this could have signaled the end of the run if they let it, the Sir Bills squeaked by Hudson Falls in the regular-season finale.

Clearly though, something clicked. The Sir Bills don't rest on a single-goal lead like they had a few weeks ago. They win balls in the air. They win 50-50 balls. They continue to get solid performances by their defense and goalkeepers.

I don't know how this new team in the old jerseys will fare against the same ol' B-P that has been dominant all year long and continued its dominance after going longer than a week without a game.

It's hard for me to imagine Johnstown winning the sectional title because the memory of the 1-9-0 start to the conference season lingers for me.

Not for them, though.

 
 

 

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