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2018 Johnstown Girls Season Preview

Johnstown HS Girls Lacrosse

NYSPHSAA Section 2, Class D Foothills Council

Denise Benton is in her 15th year as Head Coach of the Johnstown Girls Lacrosse team.  After taking a three year hiatus for the 2013-15 seasons; she returned to coach one year at the Modified level in 2016, before returning to coach the Varsity team again beginning in 2017.  Coach Benton was the first lacrosse coach of Johnstown High School, beginning the program in 1999. Additionally, she was one of the founding members and coaches of the Johnstown Youth Lacrosse Program and Board, and has been the Johnstown Lady Scorpions Travel/Tournament team Coach since its inception in 2015.

She was one of the founding members of the (Now D1, 6 time MACC Champs) Canisius College Women’s Lacrosse team.

She has served as a Director of Youth Services for 20+ years, is married to her husband Matt (a teacher, football and lacrosse coach and volunteer) and has two sons, Tyler (18) and Chase (14). Both boys are two and three sport athletes respectively. Chase is a member of the Johnstown Boys JV lacrosse team and the Boys Scorpions Travel/ Tournament team.

Tom Horning, in his third year as an assistant to the girls program, will be coaching the JV team this year. He is also the Boys Johnstown Varsity Coach.  Scott Chamberlain is a first year, Modified Girls Lacrosse Coach. Scott is a long time Johnstown Boys Basketball coach at the modified level.

We checked in with Coach Benton for a preview of the Lady Bills 2018 season.

In 2017 the team finished with a 6-7 league record and a 9-8 (overall) record, making it to the Class D Semi-final before losing to the eventual D champion Schuylerville. This was a big change from the 0-46 record for 2014-2016 years. In 2017, the team experienced an offensive upswing,from 36 goals scored in 2016, to 151 goals and 42 assists for 198 points in 2017.

With the 2018 season approaching, Coach Benton offered:

“With the solid base of returners from last year, we will look to move some JV players up throughout various games within the year. Ideally, the overall goal is to not only improve every game, but (and at a minimum) get deeper into sectional play this year. However, our more important (short term) goals include: focusing on and playing one game at a time; take no team for granted, but absolutely playing our game at our pace and with our style of play; and fearing no one. We need to take care of the ball, maintain possession as much as possible, move quickly and with purpose. Offensively, we want to win the draw; increase our assist total and we don’t ever rely on one girl to get the job done when it comes to scoring. On the field, we want no team to know who or where the next shot, take away, or power play is coming from. Defensively, we want to be stingy; win the ground ball war; and maintain a stronghold in our defensive end effectively limiting the other team’s shots. Our goalies need to be ready at all times, help communicate with the defense and make big stops. We have big aspirations and though we know we will have tough competition, we are willing to do what we can to improve every game.”

Commenting on the team’s strengths:

“We are strong, smart, and have been playing together a lot for a long time. This team is young but, we see that as a strength. They are comfortable and confident with one another, and all are capable of making big things happen when they are on the field. Most of this team has been playing travel / tournament lacrosse as well as box lacrosse for the last 5-6 years. We are working on focusing on the process from moment to moment, and not letting little mistakes take us out of the game. We had a lot of girls scoring, assisting, working the ground ball game, and just overall hustling every game.”

On players expected to be significant contributors:

“We fully expect to increase the returners contributions on the field. Losing only 3 girls (2 starters) and our #1 Scorer Kaitlyn Serpa (34g/4a = 38pts) 2nd Most goals on team, and starting midfielder and ball handler; Chelsea Cirillo (1g/ 1a = 2pts) starting defender; and Claire Guziliek we will expect the rest of the individuals to step up.
Looking at our player stats from last year we believe that we have an opportunity to grow our success with many girls having offensive stats which include: Mikaela Etheton (Jr) 27g/15a = 42pts, Team point and assist leader, offensive midfield; Abbie Hollister (So) 25g/5a = 34pts midfield/ attack; Alexandra Queeney (So) 20g/ 5a = 25pts offensive/defensive midfield; Amber Tesi (So) 13g/3a = 16pts Center; Madison Delgado (So) 9g/2a = 11pts defender; Emily Clizbe (Sr) 4g/ 6a = 10pts attack/ midfield; Paige Stewart (Sr) 8g/1a = 9pts midfield/ attack; Rachel Lee (Jr) 7g/1a = 8 pts attack; Sam Simon (So)2g/1a = 3pts midfield; Abbie Levin (Sr) 1g = 1pt attack; Megan Sitterly (So) midfield; Isabelle Petrie (So) defender; Emily Frank (So) defender/ attack; Abbie Mullins (So) Attack; Grace Fitzgerald (Jr) defender; Bailey King (So) defender; Emily Wheelis (Jr) Goalie save percentage 39%; Mari-ahna Manchester (So) Goalie save percentage 51%.”

Players who are interested in playing at the collegiate level include:

  • Paige Stewart who hopes to attend and play at Sage College in Albany
  • Emily Clizbe will be attending UNH where she hopes to play, and
  • Abbie Levin who will be attending University at Buffalo in the Fall, and will participate on their club program.

The Johnstown Girls kicked off their season by attending the RPI Play day on March 25th, where they participated in scrimmages against other Section 2 teams.  The team’s schedule will include a Senior Night (time and date TBD) and a Go Grey for May recognition event that evening.

Most of the Varsity and JV girls will continue playing this summer on the Scorpion’s travel team this summer, including trips to Tully, Girls of Summer Classic, as well as Maryland for the UWLX Summer Draw, and/ or the Watertown Battle of 1812 Summer Tourney.

For more info, follow Johnstown Girls Lacrosse at:

Twitter: @JohnstownLBLXX 

and Instagram:

#5 @marylandwlax v. #8 @syracusewlax at the dome. #laxladies #LBL

A post shared by Johnstown Lady Bills Lax #LBL (@johnstown_lady_bills_lax_lbl) on

Gary Govel
Gary has been involved in lacrosse in the Capital District for over 35 years as a player, youth coach, program administrator, parent, and fan. Gary launched in November 2015 to report on lacrosse news and information of interest to the region, and to share his passion for the game. In addition to operating this site and associated social media, Gary is also a contributor to Inside Lacrosse.