“We’re getting better every game,” said Amsterdam girls varsity lacrosse coach Jessica Byerwalters as she addressed her team following the Lady Rams 7-2 loss to the Johnstown Lady Bills on Friday afternoon at Lynch Literacy Academy field.
“It’s a matter of them believing in themselves more than I do,” Coach Byerwalters said when asked what it will take for the Lady Rams to break thorough and win their first game as a varsity program. “It’s about them wanting to be more into the team aspect of the game.”
The Lady Rams certainly looked like a team that believed and helped their own effort by taking a 1-0 lead at the 14:09 mark of the first half when junior midfielder Lucia Liverio took a pass from Kayli Hoefs and fired it past Lady Bills goalkeeper Emily Wheelis into the upper right corner of the Johnstown net. Amsterdam had something it rarely has had over the first six games this season, a lead.
But, unfortunately, it didn’t last long. Less than a minute later Johnstown’s Abbey Hollister charged into the Amsterdam zone and eluded a pair of Lady Rams defenders then sent the ball past AHS goalkeeper Paige Bertuch knotting the score at a goal apiece. Hollister’s goal started a string of six straight by the Lady Bills starting at the 13:29 mark of the first half and concluded with Emily Clizbe’s goal with 4:41 left in the second half. Alyssa Kuchis broke the streak with an aggressive move into the Johnstown end capped off by a shot into the net with only 1:52 left to play. The Lady Rams had no difficulty moving the ball into the Johnstown zone, but more often than not came away with no shots on goal to show for it.
“Sometimes we carry the ball too much and don’t use the team to our advantage,” Coach Byerwalters said.
Madison Delgado gave Johnstown the lead with 4:26 left in the first half and the Lady Bills tacked on one more when Maddie Etherton bounced one in with 21.8 seconds left to put the Lady Bills up 3-1 at the half. Emily Clizbe scored less than two minutes into the second half to make it a three goal led for the Lady Bills. Alley Queeney took a pass from Etherton at the 19:04 mark to boost the JHS lead before Clizbe scored her second goal with 4:41 left to play. The Lady Rams needed to take more chances and finally broke through late with Kuchis’ goal. Amsterdam out-shot Johnstown in the second half 9 to 7, but overall the Lady Bills put more shots on goal for the game 16 to 12, with the last one turning into a goal by Rachel Lee at exactly one minute left to play.
“I knew this was a game we could win if we believed,” Coach Byerwalters said. “Or lose if we got to far ahead of ourselves.”
Victoria Barone-Lopez, Hoefs, Kuchis, and Hope Adair all put shots on goal in a more action filled last five minutes of the contest, but all but Kuchis’ shot were turned away by Wheelis and the Lady Bills defense. Wheelis made 10 saves. Her counterpart in the net for AHS, Paige Bertuch was up for the challenge and denied Johnstown attackers nine times.
“We definitely have the dedication,” senior captain Barone-Lopez said. “We all need to have the mindset and step up a little. We’ll get there, I know we will.”
The Lady Rams return to action on Monday with an 11am contest at Schenectady High School.