Rams slip past Dragons, 2-1

Gloversville goalkeeper Cayden King watches the play as Amsterdam’s Kevin Vargas (9) jumps over the sliding tackle of Jeremy Lombardoni during the first half of Wednesday’s Foothills Council match at Gloversville High School. (The Leader-Herald/James A. Ellis)

GLOVERSVILLE — The Gloversville boys’ soccer team went into Wednesday’s Foothills Council soccer match looking for their first win of the season and put together a strong effort against the Amsterdam Rams.

The Dragons possessed the ball and created solid opportunities but had difficulty closing out the plays.

The Rams also had trouble penetrating the Dragons’ defense but switched up their formation to a single striker late in the second half. The move paid off as Raul Cruz poked in a pair of goals and the Amsterdam defense held on for the Rams’ second win of the season, 2-1 over Gloversville Wednesday night at Gloversville High School.

“It was clear they were packing it in and having their sweeper back just clean everything up,” Amsterdam coach Chris Modelowski said. “In the first half we were setting up with the stopper so we had to beat the stopper and the sweeper and it wasn’t working. I figured if I put my biggest guy, Raul, right on that sweeper and we get it to him, he could distribute. But he didn’t have to because when he beat that guy there was no one there. I worked out and he did a great job and kept us in there. We need to work on closing out our games. We haven’t won as much so we have not been in these scenarios. I would like it to be a little less stressful and have a voice left at the end of the day.”

Feeding off a solid second-half performance Monday against Broadalbin-Perth, the Dragons came out firing and put a shot on goal in the opening minute of play.

Gloversville kept the ball pinned in the Amsterdam half of the field but could not break through for a score. The Rams’ best offensive moves came off counter attacks with long runs that were turned away before solid shots could be set up.

With the score tied at zero at the start of the second half, the Dragons offense kept the pressure on the Amsterdam back line. Less than two minutes into the half, Feras Almasri put a hard shot on net that Amsterdam goalkeeper Ian Healy gathered in for the save.

The Dragons kept the pressure on and finally broke through for a score.

Damian Bruce put a short corner kick in play to Paul Lomanto who touched the ball back to Bruce and the senior sent a cross in front of the goal that Healy deflected. However, Almasri was in position to chest the ball into the net for a 1-0 lad with 30:38 left to play.

Gloversville kept the pressure on looking for a second goal and two minutes later narrowly missed on an opportunity when a shot by Bruce was knocked down and Raymond Strauser followed the play only to have it knocked off the line by an Amsterdam defender. Lomanto chipped a shot on goal that Healy recovered to make the save on to keep the score at 1-0.

With the Dragons pushing forward the Rams switched strategies with Cruz alone on the front line.

With 20:14 left to play, the Rams got the equalizer when Cruz received a long ball out of his defense from Dwight Rose, beat his defender and put the ball in the back of the net.

Gloversville went back to work moving the ball and setting up opportunities only to come up empty.

The Rams again capitalized on a long ball out of the back to Cruz as he delivered again off a long pass from Kevin Vargas to put the score at 2-1 with 14:41 showing on the clock.

The Dragons again pressured the Rams defense and earned a pair of direct kicks around the 25-yard mark but could not finish the chances as the final horn sounded giving the Rams their second win of the season.

“This was one that we definitely let get away,” Gloversville coach Jason Hillabrandt said. “We needed it and wanted it. We have an incredibly tough schedule coming up but again this was a good challenge to see how we will bounce back. I just told them we will see what we are made of now after starting off this way. Even though it is a winless season so far, it is only five games in.”

For the match, Gloversville out shot Amsterdam 11-9 and held a 10-3 edge in corner kicks.

“I am a corner kick fan. They are basically a free goal,” coach Hillabrandt said. “We are putting the corner kicks in and they are landing right where we want it but for some reason we are not executing on our corner kicks. Without a doubt the last few games finishing has definitely been our issue. We are very pleased with how we are moving the ball and getting quality chances in front of the net and really deep in front of the net. We just are not finishing.”

Amsterdam (2-3 overall, 2-3 Foothills) will travel to play Glens Falls at 5 p.m. Friday, while Gloversville (0-5, 0-5) will travel to Schuylerville for a 4:30 p.m. match on Friday.

By Paul Wager

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