JOHNSTOWN - With an opportunity to do something it hadn't done since the mid-1990s, the Johnstown field hockey team clinched the Foothills Council title Tuesday with a 5-0 win over Queensbury at Knox Field.
The Lady Bills, who shared the Foothills title in 2009 with Glens Falls, won the crown outright with their shutout win over the Lady Spartans.
"We didn't want to be co-champions with anyone this year," Johnstown coach Tracy Ringer said. "It's been since 1994 or 1995 that the title was only ours."
Johnstown’s Emily Havlicek, right, battles Queensbury’s Beth Yarze (2) for possession during Tuesday’s Foothills Council field hockey game at Knox Field in Johnstown. (The Leader-Herald/Paul Wager)
Johnstown’s Lindsay Brandt, right, battles Queensbury’s Queensbury’s Mahrukh Naqvi, left, during Tuesday’s Foothills Council field hockey game at Knox Field in Johnstown. (The Leader-Herald/Paul Wager)
Heading into Tuesday's game, Queensbury's only loss of the season came by a 2-1 margin in overtime to the Lady Bills on Sept. 20 in Queensbury.
The outcome was much different this time, as Johnstown scored four of its five goals in the second half to break open a game that was 1-0 at the half.
"To win 5-0 over a team like Queensbury, I couldn't be happier," Ringer said. "Queensbury is a quality, well-coached team."
Since losing its opening game to defending Section II Class A champion Shenendehowa 1-0 in overtime, Johnstown has won its last 14 games by a combined score of 75-4.
In those contests, Johnstown has posted 10 shutouts.
The Lady Bills' roll continued against Queensbury as they held the Lady Spartans without a shot Tuesday, while finishing with 30 of their own. Johnstown also piled up a 16-0 edge in penalty corners.
"Johnstown played very well," Queensbury coach Jaime Robinson said. "It's always a challenge to step on the turf at Knox Field. Johnstown is very fortunate to have this type of surface. Turf makes it a different game."
The Lady Bills scored the only goal of the first half when Emma Heroth scored with 7:11 remaining to make it 1-0.
Queensbury had managed to keep Johnstown off the board to that point, despite a 17-shot barrage by the Lady Bills in the first half.
Largely responsible for that was Queensbury netminder Christina Galatioto, who made 15 saves in the first half.
After the break, Johnstown got rolling right out of the gate as Ashley Dona scored on a double assist from Alexis Swatt and Heroth just 1:45 into the second half.
Lindsay Brandt gave the Lady Bills a 3-0 advantage, scoring an unassisted goal with 21:02 remaining.
Heroth scored on an assist from Dona with 8:43 to play before Heroth returned the favor on the game's final goal, assisting on Dona's second tally of the day with 6:09 remaining.
Dona finished with two goals and an assist for Johnstown, pushing her season totals to 34 goals and eight assists.
"I'm ecstatic with the level of intensity and ability to make a statement, especially against a team like Queensbury," Ringer said. "We played well and stepped up our communication. We passed the ball well today."
Galatioto finished with 24 saves for Queensbury, while Alyssa Pertell went without a save on her way to Johnstown's ninth shutout of the season.
Queensbury (11-2 overall, 8-2 Foothills) will travel to Glens Falls on Thursday for a 4:15 p.m. contest before ending the regular season Saturday at home against Hudson Falls.
Johnstown (14-1 overall, 11-0 Foothills) will host Scotia-Glenville on Friday at 7 p.m. on senior night to conclude the regular season.
"We've got Scotia-Glenville on Friday and hopefully, we'll make the most of the opportunity to finish the regular season on a high note," Ringer said. "We still have a long road ahead of us. We need to stay focused."
The pairings for the Section II Class B Tournament will be announced Sunday. Both Johnstown and Queensbury are expected to be among the top seeds.
"Hopefully, we'll see them again down the road," Robinson said.