Late in Tuesday night’s game against the Scotia-Glenville Lady Tartans, Amsterdam goalkeeper Victoria Barone-Lopez came up limping after making yet another remarkable save. Lady Rams varsity coach Jessica Byerwalters remarked that during the six years she has coached Barone-Lopez, she had only once had to take her out of a game. Byerwalters called out to Barone-Lopez and asked her if she needed a sub. Barone-Lopez responded, “No, I’m good.” She finished the game, and her determined spirit typified the way that she and her Lady Rams teammates played throughout the season and during their time in the AHS soccer program. By the end of the night, the 7-0 setback to their division rival was an afterthought, as the Lady Rams and their family and friends celebrated the careers of ten seniors members.
“Passionate,” said coach Byerwalters when asked what best described the senior class. “They all like to work hard, and they are positive that’s for sure.”
It was the last home game in an Amsterdam uniform for Class of 2017 seniors Hope Adair, Victoria Barone-Lopez, Courteney Bottisti, Brianna Feliciano, Kiara Figueroa, Martina Hughes, Katarina Keyser, Rena Peconie, Asley Searles, and Mya Searles, some of whom had played soccer for more than ten years.
“That’s a lot of seniors,” Coach Byerwalters said. “I didn’t realize coming in my first year coaching varsity that I’d lose a big group to graduation. This is my original team from modified so I’m sentimental. This is my first group of seniors.”
Among that group were Barone-Lopez and Adair, who both spent 12 years in the Amsterdam soccer program that included the Amsterdam Youth Soccer Club (AYSC). Twelve years of soccer memories.
“I’ll remember the friendships and family,” Adair said. “I’ve been playing with these girls since modified. I’ll miss this team, we’re like sisters. This will be the last team I’ll ever play with.”
“Everyone on this team has a lot of heart,” Barone-Lopez said. “No matter what the outcome we’re always working together and we never doubt each other. We know how to keep our heads up.”
Both Adair and Barone-Lopez followed the traditional route from the modified level to junior varsity, and then to the varsity team. But, one of their senior teammates, Martina Hughes, left the high school game to pursue other activities, yet returned to play soccer in her senior year.
“Once I made majorettes I had a decision to make,” said Hughes who performs at AHS football halftime shows with the Amsterdam Marching Rams and majorettes program. “I played indoor soccer, and in my senior year I decided to play again. I love the sport. I’m happy I made the decision to play again, and It’s been a memorable year with my teammates.”
Having the support of your teammates is part of the equation that many high school players can reflect on when their playing days are done. Another common factor is having a coach who believes in them.
“It means a lot,” said Barone- Lopez on having Byerwalters as her coach through the years. “She’s like a family member. She’s helps me in school, and overall she’s a great coach and person.”
“She taught me leadership skills,” added Adair. “Coach Byerwalters knows we have potential and she never gives up on us.”
Only three minutes remained in the game when Byerwalters followed a game plan she had set in place when the night began; the seniors start the game and they finish the game.
“This group of seniors is hard working and give one hundred percent at all times,” Coach Byerwalters said. “The seniors did a great job. They started and finished the game, and the underclassmen did a good job supporting them.”
That group of younger AHS team members includes juniors Lucia Liverio, Ema Patrei, Kelsey Bogdan, and Haley Madei, sophomores Delianna Figueroa, and Gabrielle Stanavich, and eighth grader Lydia Iorio. The Lady Rams bench emptied when the game ended to help their goalkeeper Barone-Lopez, who faced 28 shots and made 21 saves, some at point blank range, back to the team bench.
As for the game, the Lady Tartans got first half goals from Myah Hughes, Lauren Zeglen and Peyton Culhane for a 4-0 lead. Hughes, Zeglen and Tanya Leggiero scored in the second half for Scotia-Glenville, with assists by Sydney Smith.
“We had a game plan going in,” said Byerwalters. “We’ve had trouble putting the ball in the net and that has been our demise all season.”
Amsterdam travels to Glens Falls on Thursday afternoon for a Foothills Council crossover game with the Lady Indians. Amsterdam defeated Glens Falls 8-0 back on September 26th. Game time is set for 4:30pm.