AHS girls lacrosse taking steps to improve

A casual observer may have looked at the scoreboard and saw a loss, but for the Lady Rams it was yet another sign of a team, only in their second year of existence, taking steps to improve. The final score Wednesday afternoon at Amsterdam’s Lynch Literacy Academy Field between the Amsterdam Lady Rams JV lacrosse team and the Scotia Glenville JV lacrosse team was 11-6 in favor of the visiting Lady Tartans.

“We’re doing so much better than last year,” Amsterdam junior Victoria-Barone Lopez said. “Last year this was a new thing for all of us. But, now we’re together.”

Barone-Lopez is one of three team captains along with AHS senior Diana Constantine and junior Hope Adair, on the newest girls sports program at Amsterdam High School, and in only its second year of competitive play in the Foothills Council of Section 2 New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA). The Lady Rams began play as a junior varsity squad in order to work their way up to the varsity level. Many of the Lady Rams opponents have been competitive at the varsity level for decades including their opponent on Wednesday afternoon, Scotia-Glenville. Amsterdam lost to the Lady Tartans 11-4 at Scotia-Glenville back in April, but did a little more on both the defensive and offensive sides of the field in the second meeting of the season at Lynch. It’s been a year round work in progress for the Lady Rams, who have shown the work ethic necessary to succeed.

“Our coach had us working over the summer,” Barone-Lopez said. “We got together right here at Lynch Field to work as a team to get ready for the season. Most of the girls don’t play a spring sport and wanted to try something new.”

Many of the girls on the lacrosse roster have played other sports including volleyball, soccer, basketball, volleyball, and swimming. Among the versatile athletes are Barone-Lopez along Lucia Liverio both played for the Section 2 NYSPHSAA Class A finalist Amsterdam girls varsity basketball team. Constantine, Adair, and Kaitlin Burkhart played for the AHS varsity soccer team. Cinderea Chrzanowski, Gianna Petrone, and Kateland Cooks were part of the Amsterdam varsity volleyball team this past fall, and goalkeeper Paige Bertuch was the captain of the Amsterdam girls swim team.

Amsterdam coach Jessica Byerwalters, who has been with the team since their initial 2015 season, credited the team for their willingness to improve. She said that over the last summer, the team took the initiative to practice together on their own.

“Actually that was the girls’ idea,” Byerwalters said. “I asked them to work on their game over the summer, but they got together on their own.”

That hard work to establish a team concept has paid off. The Lady Rams have won eight games and scrimmages this year including victories over Catholic Central, Schenectady, Greenwich Central, Emma Willard and South Glens Falls. It’s a vast improvement from last year when the team won only one game. After Wednesday’s game the Lady Rams record stood at eight wins and seven losses.

“We had only one win all of last season and it was by one goal,” Coach Byerwalters said. “This year we have a winning record.”

Scotia-Glenville has been one of the Lady Rams toughest opponents this season and took a 7-3 lead into halftime. Junior attacker Hope Adair got the Lady Rams on the board first with a goal just over two minutes into the game. The Lady Tartans responded with goals by Chrissy Bianchi and Sage Plentinik, whose second tally gave the Lady Tartans a 3-1 advantage midway through the first half. Lucia Liverio cut the lead to 3-2 with her first goal of the game, and Barone-Lopez tied things up at the 10:40 mark with a shot past Scotia-Gleuville keeper Victoria Darling at point blank range.

The game wasn’t knotted up for long. Plentinik picked up her third goal less than ten seconds later to give SGHS a lead they would not relinquish. Maya Bellamy scored a pair of goals, the second coming with 5:45 left in the half, and Ellen Luke scored with less than a minute left in the first half to give the Lady Tartans the four goal advantage.

Bellamy netted her third goal three minutes into the second half, but Liverio closed the gap when she charged down the middle of the field and fired one past Darling narrowing the lead to 8-4 in favor of the Lady Tartans. Teya Morris boosted the lead to 9-4 at the 15 minute mark, but Constantine got one back for AHS when the Lady Rams were a man down with 14:14 left to play. The two teams battled to a defensive stalemate until Gwen Currie got SGHS on the board again with 4:36 to play. Bellamy followed with her game high fourth goal at the 2:23 mark boosting the lead to 11-5. Liverio fired in her team high third goal, the second straight with a man down for AHS, with 1:13 left to produce the final result. Amsterdam goalkeeper Paige Bertuch faced 23 shots and made 12 saves.

“They’ve come a long way,” Coach Byerwalters said. “The girls are playing the game in fall ball, and they hit the weight room too. They’ve been doing a lot to get better.”

Amsterdam has only two games remaining on its schedule including a Friday contest at Glens Falls, and their final home game on Tuesday at Lynch Field against South Glens Falls, a team the Lady Rams defeated earlier in the season 11-1. Tuesday’s game will also be senior night for Lady Rams Diana Constantine, Kaitlyn Burkhart, Malina Rivera, Victoria Hope Sayers, and Alliyah Thomas.

Scott Mulford

Scott Mulford has been covering local sports for over 20 years. He previously wrote for the Amsterdam Star and The Free Press of the Mohawk Valley.