By ADAM SHINDER
TOWN OF AMSTERDAM -- For Amsterdam High School lacrosse coach Paul Furman, his team's healthy representation on the 2014 Big 10 All-Star teams was a testament to just how far the program has come in a short time.
Ten Rams were honored when the league's coaches selected the All-Star squads Wednesday night: Attackman Jon Magaletti, midfielder Anthony Yevoli and close defender Marc LaBahn on the first team; midfielder Matt Fedullo, defensive midfielder Kevin Ottati and close defender Dan Lis on the second team; and attackmen Corey Dybas and Tyler Nordby, longstick midfielder Dal Orengo and goalie Dillon Smith on the honorable mention list.
After Monday's Section II Class B quarterfinal loss to Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake ended Amsterdam's season after a 9-8 campaign, the honors were a nice tag on what Furman judged as a successful year.
"We did have a tough game that last game, but it didn't represent the whole of the season and how much work the players have done," Furman said. "I think this all-star team represents much better the work that they put in for the whole, entire season. It was a good showing for our team, all-in-all."
Players like Yevoli, Magaletti and Smith, who entered the Amsterdam program as underclassmen when the Rams were in an extended down period as a team, said they were thrilled simply to be leaving the program in far better shape than they found it.
"It's a great thing that we were able to push the program further than it ever has been before," Magaletti said.
"I feel like before, kids were just playing as something to do between other sports," Smith added. "Now, we've got numerous kids out of this class going to play in college. That never really happened before."
Now, they said, when opposing teams see Amsterdam take the field against them, there's a level of respect that wasn't necessarily there before.
"We knew from the beginning we'd have to work hard to turn the program around," Yevoli said. "Before, it was not really a good program, to be honest. People didn't think highly of Amsterdam lacrosse. It's good that we could finally turn the name around."
It's something that Furman saw from his fellow Big 10 coaches when the league met to decide its postseason honors.
"Everyone agreed how much better we've gotten," he said.
Among Amsterdam's three first-team all-stars, Magaletti fueled the Rams' attack, setting what Furman said he believes is an Amsterdam single-season scoring record of 52 points on 33 goals and 19 assists.
"He was that kid that worked all offseason," Furman said. "He never missed an opportunity. ... I know the CBA coaches, they wanted to make sure that if I didn't put him up (for first-team consideration), they wanted him there because they thought he was very, very tough."
Yevoli missed a large chunk of the 2013 season with a concussion and returned from his senior year with Furman asking him not only to switch from his longstanding position of attack to midfield, but also to take on the duties of being Amsterdam's primary faceoff specialist. He transitioned to both with aplomb, racking up 29 goals -- including six-goal outbursts against Johnstown and Notre Dame Utica.
"The kid played attack his whole life, and he switched to midfield his senior year, and there's some aspects of the game that are completely different," Furman said. "He ended up doing a really good job with it."
LaBahn became a starter after being called up to the varsity team late in 2013 and cemented one of the three starting spots in front of Smith as his own along with Lis and senior Gabe Mendez. An imposing physical presence, Furman said LaBahn was recognized for his ability to move seamlessly between the Rams' zone and man-to-man defenses.
"He's a big kid, he's physical and he really, really works for his team," Furman said.
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