Adam Shinder/Recorder staff Amsterdam High School boys soccer coach Adam Fetterly, center standing, talks to his team at halftime of Tuesday's match with Schenectady at Lynch Literacy Academy.
Adam Shinder/Recorder staff Amsterdam midfielder Pat Corcoran, right, gets in position to intercept a pass from Schenectady's Justin Estremera, left, during Tuesday's match at Lynch Literacy Academy.
By ADAM SHINDER
The Amsterdam High School boys soccer team held on under the baking late afternoon sun for 40 minutes in its season opener Tuesday against Schenectady, but the Rams' legs wilted in the opening 10 minutes of the second half, and the Patriots took advantage.
Amsterdam walked a tightrope to maintain a scoreless tie through halftime, but a four-goal Schenectady onslaught to start the second half provided all the distance as the Patriots sent the inexperienced Rams side to a 4-0 defeat on the scorching turf at Lynch Literacy Academy.
"I think we kind of fell asleep," Amsterdam coach Adam Fetterly said. "I definitely saw a mental lapse. There was a lot less aggressiveness and physical play in those 10 minutes, it was very, very clear."
After holding Schenectady goalless in the first half, it took just 83 seconds for the Rams to capitulate the lead after intermission. Ander Roman played a free kick from the left wing that curled over the Amsterdam defense and found its way to an unmarked Jamal Aladwar at the back post for a one-touch finish past Amsterdam goalkeeper Jose Perez.
Six minutes later, the Patriots doubled the lead through Eddie Sichilongo, who found himself wide open at the top of the 18-yard box before hitting a dribbling shot that caught Perez out of position.
"We didn't come out that well in the first couple minutes of the second half," said Amsterdam senior defender Antonio Alvarez.
Three minutes after Sichilongo made it 2-0, the Patriots salted the game away with two goals in less than 20 seconds. First, Roman scorched a point-blank shot from Perez's left that was too hot to handle, then -- after the Rams turned the ball over on the ensuing kickoff -- Justin Estremera's shot from outside the box ricocheted off an Amsterdam defender and past a helpless Perez.
"We settled in, stopped kind of playing the 'Plinko' ball and started finding feet," Schenectady coach Terrence Sloan said. "That's when their skill really starts to shine."
The Rams recovered a bit after Schenectady's 10-minute rush and produced a few strong runs through forwards Francisco Maroto and David Jones and central midfielder Isaiah Cameron-Murray, but the club's only shot on goal was a late Alvarez free kick from 25 yards out that Schenectady goalkeeper Mahmood Shohatee easily dealt with.
"With an inexperienced team, after that first goal, we kind of hang our heads a little bit," Fetterly said. "After the fourth goal, we recovered a little bit, but we have to work on recovering a little sooner."
Among the brighter spots for the Rams was the play of Perez in goal. A soccer newcomer, the senior had his struggles at spots but produced several strong saves -- including two from point-blank range off corner kicks -- and commanded his penalty area well given his lack of experience.
"He surprised me today," Fetterly said. "Coming from not playing soccer before, he did pretty well."
Amsterdam saw very little of the ball in the first half, but coming off a rough scrimmage performance last week against Christian Brothers Academy, the Rams were happy to escape the opening 40 minutes with the game scoreless -- thanks largely to two saves in the final minute of the half when Cameron-Murray deflected a ball bound for goal and Perez parried away Estremera's redirection of the ensuing corner kick.
"Much better than the scrimmage against CBA," Alvarez said. "I'm seeing a lot of improvement in the guys."
"We've got some work to do, but the first half was different from the second half, for sure," Fetterly said.
The Rams return to action Friday at 4:30 p.m. when they hit the road to take on Johnstown in Amsterdam's first boys soccer game as a member of the Foothills Council. After an uneven debut with an inexperienced team returning just four varsity players and featuring several newcomers to the sport, Fetterly's looking forward to seeing his team make progress.
"It can only go up from here," he said.
Contact ADAM SHINDER at firstname.lastname@example.org