Amsterdam girls lacrosse program begins varsity era

The official score book for Tuesday’s Amsterdam girls lacrosse game with the Scotia-Glenville Lady Tartans will show that the first goal for the Lady Rams as a varsity team was scored by Hope Adair at the 14:43 mark of the first half during Amsterdam’s 14-2 loss at Lynch Literacy Academy Field. To some it may not have seemed significant, but for everyone in the Amsterdam lacrosse program and the community, it was a school sports history making moment.

Amsterdam trailed early in their game with one of the better teams in Section 2 after the Lady Tartans scored six goals in he first ten minutes. But, the Lady Rams showed signs of the competitive team that last year as a junior varsity squad became the first girls lacrosse team in school history to have a winning record, when midfielder Lucia Liverio sprinted into the Scotia-Glenville zone and got off a pass to teammate Victoria Barone-Lopez, who found Adair attacking from behind the net. Adair rifled a shot past Lady Tartans goalkeeper Caitlyn Wilson, and suddenly the Lady Rams were making a game of it.

“It was very exciting,” said Adair, a senior in her only varsity season. “Scotia-Glenville is one of the better teams to play, and it made me happy because it gave us hope and faith that we can come out and play with the better teams. It showed that we can score goals, and the next time we face them we can score more, we just need to get back into form.”

Thanks to a cycle of late winter weather, the Lady Rams had only a week and a half to practice outdoors, but that could not take away from the anticipation of taking he field for the first time ever as a varsity program.

“There was a lot of excitement,” said Lady Rams senior midfielder Victoria Barone-Lopez. “Everyone was a little nervous. It’s always about teamwork, and it was a great feeling getting that first goal.”

Barone-Lopez got into the record book when she earned the team’s first assist on Adair’s goal, and later on Liverio’s goal a little over a minute later with 13:32 left in the first half that cut the Lady Tartans lead to 7-2. Liverio’s quickness highlighted a strength to the Amsterdam game.

“We’re very good on fast break shots,” Amsterdam coach Jessica Byerwalters said. “We have some speed with our attack. Our half field offense – we have some issues with people out of position and cutting in front.”

Byerwalters played a key role in establishing a girls lacrosse program at Amsterdam High School, and for the last two seasons coached the team as a junior varsity program. Late last season, after the team picked up its ninth win assuring them of a winning record, Byerwalters decided that Amsterdam would make the move to compete at the varsity level in 2017. The Lady Rams first varsity schedule showed that their home opener would be a tough one in the form of a Scotia-Glenville team that is no stranger to sectional play.

“The girls were nervous about playing Scotia-Glenville in the beginning,” Coach Byerwalters said. “I wanted them to be prepared that things may not be pretty right away. We have some tough games to open the season and we’ve only been playing a week and a half.”

Amsterdam’s man-to-man defense struggled against the experience of the Lady Tartans attack. Lauren Hosner opened the scoring with a goal 41 seconds into the game. Moments later, Amsterdam goalkeeper Paige Bertuch recorded the Lady Rams first save. Myah Hughes followed with a goal assisted by Abby Marola to boost SGHS’ lead to 2-0. Hughes scored again along with Lexi Zaharowicz, Lilli Murphy, and Cassie Runfelt before Adair broke through for the Lady Rams. Sarah Surinan scored twenty seconds after the AHS tally to make it 7-1 SGHS, followed by Liverio’s goal. Scotia-Glenville finished the first half with four unanswered goals, two each by Sage Diemenik and Gwen Currie to go up 11-2 at the break. Amsterdam switched to more of a zone defense in the second half that held the Lady Tartans to fewer shots and only three goals, one by Surinan, and the last two by Murphy.

“Our man-to-man is not where it should be,” Coach Byerwalters said. “However, our zone was better and we were able to put more pressure on them and keep them from cutting in, in the second half.”

Amsterdam goalkeeper Bertuch faced 25 shots and made 11 saves, six in the second half. Wilson made three saves on five shots for SGHS. Helping Bertuch on the defensive end were Kateland Cooks, Gianna Petrone, and Kelsey Bogdan.

Joining Adair as attackers for the Lady Rams will be Lydia Iorio, Britney Potter, and Myah Searles. Helping Barone-Lopez and Liverio at midfield will include Cinderea Chrzanowski, Kayli Hoefs, Alyssa Kuchis, and Emily Schaufelberg.

Many of the Lady Rams that make up the school’s first girls varsity lacrosse team are active in other sports including soccer, volleyball, and basketball, with their goalkeeper,a captain on the girls swim team. All of that experience helps them prepare for the season ahead, one that will have some early challenges as Amsterdam will face teams with a history of success including their next opponent on Wednesday, as Amsterdam hosts Schuylerville at Lynch Field at 4:30 pm.

“We’re getting the big games out of the way early,” Coach Byerwalters said. “Against Schenectady, Johnstown, South Glens Falls, and Greenwich, I think we will be better against them.”

Amsterdam girls sports teams have experienced success with varsity teams winning league titles in nearly every sport. Success takes time, something that every member of the Lady Rams lacrosse team knows it will take to make a contender. The new varsity team now has a starting point, and has a modified program to help them build a future, one that has a coach ready to take them there.

“There never was a girls lacrosse program at Amsterdam until coach Byerwalters brought it about,”

Barone Lopez said. “Varsity is a big step forward, and coach is preparing us well. We’ll be ready for it.”

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.