GLOVERSVILLE - In their first two meetings this season, the Gloversville boys soccer team defeated Johnstown 1-0 and 4-1.
Monday night, the Sir Bills turned the tables, picking up a Foothills Council split with a 3-0 victory over the Dragons in the final regular-season game for both teams.
"It's been a long time since we played like that," Johnstown coach Mike Hill said. "It's a good thing we had that non-league tune-up game against Broadalbin. It really helped us. We played tonight like we're capable of playing."
Johnstown’s Jeremy Serpa (5) heads the ball away from Gloversville’s Jake Crocetta (3) and Skyler Deming (10) during Monday night’s Foothills Council match at Gloversville High School. (The Leader-Herald/Paul Wager)
With the win, the Sir Bills finished in a three-way tie for fifth in the Foothills Council standings with a 2-10-0 league record. The third game between Gloversville and Johnstown was a non-league contest played after Hudson Falls was unable to field a varsity team this season.
"We have talked all year about mental preparation, and we were not prepared to play Johnstown for a third time," Gloversville coach Paul Ligon said. "All the credit to Johnstown, they came ready to play and we didn't. The last two games against them we were ready to play. I guess playing a team three times in a season made the kids overconfident, and maybe we took them too lightly."
Gloversville opened its senior night match on the attack but was held in check by the Sir Bills defense.
Johnstown built off its defensive stand, taking control of the midfield possessions and finding open passing lanes in the Dragons defense.
Alex Hollister capitalized on a loose ball outside the penalty area, blasting a 25-yard line drive through the defenders and into the back of the net for a 1-0 advantage with just over 15 minutes left in the opening half.
Johnstown kept its offensive surge going, pinning the Dragons in a defensive posture. The pressure paid off when Elijah Hill ran onto a long pass out of the midfield and finished the play for a 2-0 Johnstown lead with 10:01 left to intermission.
The Sir Bills knocked on the door again in the 35th minute when Brandon Spaid headed a cross from Sam Hoover on net, only to have Gloversville's Adam Sleezer make a goal-saving clear off the line.
Gloversville engineered a strong run in the closing minutes of the opening half. The strongest scoring attempt of the half for the Dragons came with 1:50 remaining when Thomas Kirk connected on a hard drive off a pass from Alessandro Ciuci. Sir Bills goalkeeper Andy Camarra was up to the task, making the stop and sparking a counterattack.
The run finished a strong half for the Sir Bills as Austin Roche drove a pass from Austin Vogel off the gloves of Gloversville goalkeeper Nick Cirillo for a 3-0 halftime advantage for Johnstown.
The Dragons showed a sense of urgency early in the second half as they went to work trying to erase the 3-0 deficit.
The Dragons moved the ball in the Johnstown defensive zone but were denied open looks at the goal and when they were able to get off attempts, Camarra was able to control the shots.
Camarra came up big again with 20:20 left in the match when he charged off his line for a 50-50 ball near the left side of the box. Camarra slid to knock an attempt by Kirk off line, allowing his defense to safely clear the ball up field.
Although Gloversville outshot Johnstown 10-3 in the second half, they could not break through as time ran out on its season.
"We didn't possess the ball like we normally do. We had a lot of opportunities to possess against them and we did not take advantage of it," Ligon said. "We were flat, especially in the first half. I thought we played a little better in the second half but not nearly as well as we normally play."
For the match, Gloversville outshot Johnstown 12-9 with Johnstown having the edge in corner kicks 6-5.
Cirillo had five saves in goal for the Dragons, while Camarra notched 10 for the Sir Bills.
"I really can't single anybody out, because everybody played great," coach Hill said. "We haven't played like this since game four. It is supposed to be a ladder not a slide. We finished in a three way tie for fifth place in the Foothills with Gloversville and Glens Falls. We are going to go to sectionals and will find out [today] who we will play."
Gloversville finished its season with a 3-12-0 overall record while posting a 2-10-0 Foothills Council mark. The Dragons have opted not to participate in the Class A postseason tournament.