AMSTERDAM – It did not take long for the first-game jitters to disappear for the Johnstown and Amsterdam boys lacrosse teams.
The teams squared off in the season-opener for both squads Thursday night at the Lynch Literacy Academy, and the Rams held off Johnstown for a 3-2 non-league victory.
“Anytime you can start the season with a W, whether it is by one goal or 10, it is a good thing,” Amsterdam coach Paul Furman said. “There are a lot of things we need to clean up, but we have film we are going to watch tomorrow and take some lessons from it.”
Both teams moved the ball well early in the game, mixing a short passing game with long passes out of the defensive zone.
The movement created opportunities that were shut down by solid defensive play by both squads.
The Sir Bills narrowly missed a solid scoring opportunity when Marshall Manchester’s skip shot was controlled by Amsterdam goalkeeper Dillon Smith.
The save sparked the Rams’ offense as they picked up their attack. However, a strong attempt by Amsterdam’s Jon Magaletti was shut down when Johnstown goalkeeper Zack Simone came off his line to confront Mageletti before he could get off an attempt.
The Rams broke through for the first score of the match with 3:23 when Robert Santiago fired a low shot past Simone for the score.
The Sir Bills offense came to life in the second quarter, moving the ball effectively through the Rams’ midfield. Jeremy Serpa received a long pass off a restart and turned on goal, only to have Smith make the save.
With 3:24 left in the opening half, Jeremiah Robinson scored the equalizer. Robinson received a pass out of the defense and raced along the left sideline before cutting across the crease, spinning and firing the ball into the back of the net.
Santiago broke the tie with his second goal of the match, a skip shot, to put the Rams up 2-1 with 9:44 left in the third period.
The Sir Bills again came back in the closing minute, with Robinson finding Serpa with a pass in the middle that he fired on goal only to be rejected again by Smith.
Amsterdam picked up what would prove to be the game-winner with 9:20 left in the game.
Magaletti won a ground ball and maneuvered his way to fire a hard shot on goal that settled into the netting for a 3-1 advantage.
The Sir Bills responded with an offensive surge that was kept in check by the Amsterdam defense.
However, with 3:46 remaining Johnstown cut the Rams’ lead to one when Serpa fired a pass from Manchester past Smith to make the score 3-2.
Both teams played with a sense of urgency in the final minutes but could not break through solid defensive play on both ends of the field.
“We had a little bit of a lapse where they outhustled us on ground balls. That pretty much was the difference,” Johnstown coach Scott Petrie said. “Their goalie [Smith] made a couple of big saves, when we did turn the corner. Personally, I thought we were moving the ball better than we have done in the past. We are young. We had two sophomores and a freshman out there. I know they are young, too, and it made it a good matchup.”
Amsterdam held a 14-13 edge in shots on goal, while Smith made seven saves and Simone six.
Petrie credited his defense with keeping the Rams’ attack under control.
“Colin Dalmata is a leader out there and he has come into his own,” he said. “We are coming around very nice. This is the first time out for us this year. We didn’t recognize some things, but that will come along the more we play.”
One of the concerns Furman had before the season was the composure of his team under pressure.
“That was one of the main things we looked at coming into the season,” he said. “One thing I harped on was to correct the situation where we got penalties that we shouldn’t have gotten. There was one situation tonight when we got a penalty when we shouldn’t have because we would have been a man up and ended up not getting it. They are young men and have a passion. The man who got that penalty got back in control and did some good things at the end of the game. All-in-all, the effort was there tonight. Before the fourth quarter I told them to give your all, give a good effort and good things will happen, and we ended up with the W.”