By ADAM SHINDER
Recorder Sports Staff
SCHENECTADY -- The Amsterdam High School lacrosse team spent so much of Thursday's game against Schenectady trying to cut into a two-goal deficit that by the time the Rams finally got their first goal of the evening, time was quickly running out on their chances to get a second.
Amsterdam was held scoreless for the first 43 minutes of Thursday's contest, until Rob Santiago found Jon Magaletti in front of the crease to finally get a shot past Schenectady goalie James Schnepf with 5:07 to play. The Rams' best chance to tie came seconds later, when Schnepf denied a right-handed shot from Amsterdam midfielder Hector Diaz, and the Patriots were able to kill off most of the remaining time to hold on for a 2-1 victory.
"We ran out of time," said Amsterdam coach Paul Furman. "We've got to move the ball on offense, that's key. More important, we've got to stay together as a team. We can't start back-biting. When adversity hits, we've got to pull together and work through it together."
For much of the game, Amsterdam (7-3, 1-3 Big 10) struggled to string passes together on the offensive end of the field, going scoreless through the first 3 1/2 quarters despite controlling the flow of the game and preventing Schenectady's offense from getting into a consistent rhythm.
But, the Patriots (2-8, 1-2) were able to cash in twice in the first half --midfielder Erick Aldas beat Amsterdam goalie Dillon Smith in the first quarter and defender Alex Phann scored in transition in the second -- while the Rams couldn't find a way to create enough quality chances against Schnepf and the Schenectady defense.
"When the offense is having trouble passing and catching, it's always gonna be a rough day offensively," Furman said. "In this game, you've got to be able to pass and catch. It's a staple. Every time we would try and pass the ball around, it would hit the turf and slow us down. We've got to run the offense we've taught. We can wing things, we've got to schematically run what we've taught."
Amsterdam finally got into a groove after halftime, but once the Rams' passes starting clicking, their shots couldn't find any room to get past Schnepf, who stopped 18 of the 19 shots that Amsterdam put on goal.
"We were taking shots on him. Our guys kept hitting him low, kept hitting him low and he just kept blocking us," Furman said.
"Our goalie played outstanding," said Schenectady coach Dave Trahan. "He's saved us a lot of times so far, and he saved the whole team today. They put the ball on the goal and James came up with a lot of saves."
It wasn't until there was 5:07 left in the fourth quarter that Amsterdam finally cashed in. With Schenectady's Erick Campos off on a one-minute slashing penalty, Amsterdam's man-up unit -- scoreless in its four previous opportunities -- got the Rams on the board when Santiago spotted Magaletti sneaking onto the crease from behind the cage and threaded a pass through the slot that Magaletti dunked past Schnepf.
Though his team had led since there were two minutes left in the first quarter, Trahan started to feel nervous on the sideline. The Patriots had struggled mightily on offense since scoring their second goal early in the second quarter, and Trahan was concerned that once the Rams put one shot past Schnepf, the tide would turn in Amsterdam's favor.
"When Amsterdam scored the man-up goal, it was a turning point. I thought it was gonna turn for the worse," Trahan said.
Amsterdam got a chance after forcing a turnover following the ensuing faceoff, but Schnepf denied Diaz's sidearm shot. After back-and-forth turnovers, Schenectady got the ball into the offensive zone with 2:38 to play and didn't surrender the ball until there were 25 seconds left in the game.
By that point, Amsterdam didn't have the chance to settle its offense enough to get a shot on the cage, dooming the Rams to a second straight loss and leaving Furman disappointed at his team's inconsistency through the first half of its Big 10 schedule.
"We've been very inconsistent in our games. Even the games we've won, we've been inconsistent -- we've won games without running the offense or defense properly and still eked it out," he said. "We need to put four quarters of lacrosse together. We've been very inconsistent to this point and we need to finish the season strong."