Amsterdam’s Mya Searles (11) brings the ball up the field as Schenectady’s Grace Herrmann (9) defends during Wednesday’s game at Lynch Literacy Academy. (Adam Shinder/Recorder staff)
By ADAM SHINDER
If the Amsterdam High School girls lacrosse team’s inaugural varsity season can be considered one big learning experience, then Wednesday’s game against the Schenectady Lady Patriots was akin to the Lady Rams’ final exam.
There were some bumps and bruises along the way of course, but Wednesday at Lynch Literacy Academy, the Lady Rams passed their final test with flying colors. Kayli Hoefs scored five goals, Lucia Liverio had two goals and an assist and Hope Adair chipped in a goal and an assist as Amsterdam overcame an early three-goal deficit to finish off their season with a 12-5 win.
“This feels good,” Liverio said. “We worked for it.”
Victoria Barone-Lopez, Britney Potter, Ashley Searles and Alyssa Kuchis also scored and Paige Bertuch played a solid game in goal as the Lady Rams wrapped up their first campaign at the varsity level with their first-ever win on home turf.
Amsterdam finished the season with just two wins — both over Schenectady — but as Greater Amsterdam School District Superintendent Dr. Vicma “Vicky” Ramos reminded the team in a pregame speech Wednesday, this season was about far more than the team’s record, it was about making history.
“Dr. Ramos came here before the game and made a very good statement, that the girls made history before they even had a record this year,” Amsterdam coach Jessica Byerwalters said. “Two have two wins this year — non-league or in the league — is a good way to end.”
It’s a place in AHS history Byerwalters and her players are happy to occupy.
“It was an honor to have this opportunity, especially because girls lacrosse is new in Amsterdam,” Barone-Lopez said.
“We made history,” Liverio added.
“It was definitely a great experience,” Adair said.
The Lady Rams started slow in the searing heat as Schenectady scored the game’s first three goals. It took nearly 17 minutes for Amsterdam to get the ball past Patriots goalie Sara Ali, but when Adair finally broke the ice off a free position with 8:13 left in the first half, Amsterdam grabbed the momentum and kept it for almost the entire remainder of the game.
Goals from Hoefs, Barone-Lopez and Potter gave Amsterdam a 4-3 halftime lead, with Liverio and Searles scoring early in the second half to make it 6-3. Schenectady got some brief life on back-to-back goals from Nyzairia Ussery that made it a one-goal game with 10:23 to play, but Amsterdam closed with furious six-goal rush to close the game. Kuchis got it started with a quick-stick conversion off a pass from Liverio, and Hoefs scored four of her five goals in the game’s final three minutes and 30 seconds — with Liverio adding her second of the game in the middle of that surge — to emphatically seal the win.
“This was the first time we’ve ever been down and actually come back and overcome a deficit,” Byerwalters said. “That’s another accomplishment they can be proud of.”
“I’m proud of them no matter what,” she added. “They’ve improved since day one. There’s obviously still some things that our younger girls need to work on, but at the end of the day it is what it is and we’re gonna keep chugging along.”
The Lady Rams will bid farewell to nine seniors from this inaugural team: Barone-Lopez, Potter, Adair, Ashley Searles, Mya Searles, Gianna Petrone, Kateland Cooks, Cinderae Chrzanowski and Paloma Malave.
They were the first, but even though her high school career is done, Barone-Lopez is excited to see where the program goes next.
“It was definitely worth being here at the beginning,” she said. “Now seeing all the little leagues starting up and kids starting to fill our shoes is a great feeling.”