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Schools of Thought: Different Rams eye Sir Bills

April 6, 2009
By BILL CAIN, The Leader-Herald

Nobody on either coaching staff seems to be able to remember the last time Amsterdam's boys' lacrosse team beat Johnstown.

Today, when the two teams meet at 7 p.m. at Knox Field in Johnstown, might be the Rams' best bet in quite some time.

As Amsterdam coach Mike Gugliemelli said Saturday, the Rams will show up at Knox with " a different team."

While Amsterdam returns a ton of experience and is coming off its first win of the season, a payback overtime victory over Schuylerville Saturday, Johnstown comes in with just one game played, a shellacking Friday at the hands of Greenwich.

The Sir Bills may soon figure out how to fill the holes left by last year's graduation. The sooner they do, the sooner they will win.

It could happen today, but that's a tall order.

In their first game, it was apparent they are still missing a few pieces on both ends of the field. The defense had trouble sliding and a three-minute unreleaseable penalty for an illegal stick seemed to be the turning of the tide, as a close and manageable game slipped out to sea and drifted away.

Amsterdam was faced with the exact same penalty at the exact same time in Saturday's game, at the beginning of the second quarter. To make matters worse for the Rams, they added a minute-long penalty for slashing just 27 seconds into the three-minute man disadvantage.

Schuylerville led 2-1 at the end of the first quarter and could have used the two-man advantage to start pulling away, as Greenwich did up one man the day before. Amsterdam stonewalled the Horses.

The result of the penalty kill was improved morale and increased energy. Schuylerville, meanwhile, started throwing the ball away.

That's the difference between a team with more returning experience and one with younger players. Greenwich scored three times in the three minutes of its man advantage, opening a 6-0 lead.

From 3-0 to 6-0 in under three minutes. That looks like a much different hill to climb. Had it still been 3-0, I tend to believe Johnstown would have made a better game of it in the end.

Still, it's early in the season and these are high schoolers, so it's not necessarily true that Amsterdam will consistently play as well as it did after the first three minutes of the second quarter Saturday, nor is it necessarily true Johnstown will consistently be done in by its own penalties and errant passes as it was Friday.

I've seen stranger things and wouldn't be overly surprised if they switched roles today. They could just as easily switch back tomorrow.

Johnstown is still figuring out who will provide its offense. Jeff Roth found the netting three times for the Sir Bills in their opener, but the team's opportunities were limited by errant passes. If they get that under control, they should have more success.

Amsterdam's six goals were scored by five players. Angel Valentin scored twice and Drew Hastings scored seven seconds into overtime by bouncing his shot past Schuylerville goalie J.P Gove. It took overtime Saturday, but if the Rams put more of their shots on frame - too many sailed harmlessly past the goal and out of bounds - they may prove a dangerous team in any game this season.

If the Johnstown players race along the learning curve and took as much from Friday's loss as coach Eric Laugen said he hoped they took, they will have a far better chance today.

If they don't, and if they lose, they have to remember this is just their second game and learn from it as they move forward into Tuesday's 4:30 p.m. game at South Glens Falls.

If they can do that, the second time they meet Amsterdam - at Lynch Literacy Academy at 7:30 p.m. May 21 - will be anyone's game.

Bill?Cain is a sports reporter for The Leader-Herald. We invite your feedback on this or any other sports-related topic. E-mail your opinions or ideas to us at



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