It was nearly twenty years ago that the Amsterdam High School girls and boys soccer programs first held games as part of homecoming weekend. The varsity teams back then played conference rivals under the lights at St. Mary’s Institute. Friday night’s AHS Lady Rams game with new conference rival Queensbury had all the elements of a homecoming game with break away goals, outstanding defense, and incredible saves by a fearless AHS goalkeeper. But in the end though it was the Lady Spartans who came away with the win getting goals from Claire Hubbs and Lauren Vedder only a minute apart late in the second half giving Queensbury the 3-1 edge at Lynch Literacy Academy Field.
Amsterdam trailed 1-0 at halftime. AHS senior forward Maddie Healy had been stopped in the first half getting few touches of the ball. Healy continued to work hard against an aggressive Queensbury defense. That hard work paid off at the 28 minute mark of the second half when Healy out hustled a pair of Queensbury defenders and broke away down the center of the field. Her shot eluded Queensbury goal keeper Sarash O’ Brien and hit the back right corner of the net. The goal delighted the crowd, some holding signs to recognize AHS players, the Lady Rams tied it at 1-1.
“She had a break away and she capitalized on it,” AHS coach Deanna Alex said on Healy’s goal, “She put the ball where it had to go.”
Junior goalkeeper Cassandra Robataille also stepped forward during the game to give AHS a fighting chance.
Less than three minutes into the game Queensbury forward Emily Chester had a break away through the center of the AHS zone. Chester unleashed a shot at point blank range that Robataille smothered for the save. Less than a minute later Vedder fired another close shot that Robataille grabbed to prevent the score. A corner kick by the Lady Spartans also never got close to the net. The AHS net- minder in her third season as varsity goalkeeper has made a habit of keeping the Lady Rams in games this season.
“She’s an amazing goal keeper,” said Coach Alex on Robataille. “She’s our rock, our wall.”
Queensbury finally broke through at the 35 minute mark when Claire Hubbs found the back of the net for her first goal of the night. Queensbury took six ‘point blank’ shots on goal in the first half, five were turned away by Robataille. The AHS offense meanwhile seemed bottled up at midfield for much of the first half managing only five shots on goal. The Lady Rams best chance of the half came on an Emma Patrei’s shot to the right of the Queensbury net twenty minutes into the game. Queensbury goal keeper Sarah O’Brien rolled out to make the save. Robataille meanwhile continued her impressive play into the second half.
Chester broke away into the AHS zone once again in the second half. A point block shot and later the rebound were turned away by Robataille at the 19:30 mark. A minute later she turned away another pair of close range kicks from Queensbury forwards. Robataille finished with thirteen saves. Her counterpart O’Brien made eight saves. Queensbury out-shot AHS 18 to 10.
“She’s strong,” said Coach Alex on Robataille. “She’s strong on long shots, breakaways, corner kicks, everything. She’s saved us many times this season.”
Amsterdam defenders Kaitlyn Burkhart and Kaitlyn Devine prevented several Queensbury scoring chances in the second half in front of Robataille. Burkhart marked the Lady Spartans forwards and swept away potential shots in front of the AHS net. Devine’s fancy footwork would suddenly change direction sending the action into the Queensbury end of the field. Queensbury’s persistence however finally decided the outcome of the game.
Claire Hubbs split a pair of AHS defenders and drove in scoring her second and game winning goal at the 8:34 mark. Less than one minute later Lauren Vedder added a score for the final margin of victory.
The Lady Rams are over half way through their Foothills Council schedule. As part of a conference with more schools fielding girls sports teams they have not had to schedule many non league games. AHS has faced teams that they are not accustomed to seeing on a regular basis and the level of competition has also increased.
“We see better competition,” said Coach Alex when asked about the advantages of being in the Foothills Council. “We’re familiar with teams in the southern league. Facing the northern league teams like Queensbury is new. We’ve seen them before, but now we see them every year.”
Amsterdam will host another new conference rival, Scotia Glenville on Monday at Lynch Literacy Academy Field.