When Amsterdam boys’ soccer coach Adam Fetterly asked for a show of hands from his seniors during Monday morning’s first day of practice, he was hoping to be surprised.
No such luck.
“I knew there wouldn’t be many,” said Fetterly, whose senior-heavy team posted an 8-7-2 record last fall. “We lost 10 or 11 from that team. Some others who would be seniors this season chose not to come out for the team.
“There were a couple of faces that I hadn’t seen before, and, hopefully, they’ll be players we can use, but we’re going to be very young.”
The turnover of the Amsterdam roster comes after an offseason that saw a lot of change off the field.
The Rams will be playing in a new league. The Big 10 is no more, and Amsterdam is now a member of the Foothills Council, where it will play in the South Division with Gloversville, Broadalbin-Perth, Johnstown and Scotia-Glenville.
Schuylerville has also joined the Foothills, and will be part of the North Division that features the Glens Falls area schools.
The folding of the Big 10, the growth of the Foothills Council and the move of Mechanicville from the Colonial Council to the Wasaren League gives the Section II soccer landscape a new look.
“I never would have thought there wouldn’t be a Big 10,” said Antonio Alvarez, one of the few 12th-graders on the
Amsterdam roster. “But a new league always brings some new challenges. It should be interesting.
“I think playing in the Big 10, some kids get intimidated. I know the Foothills has some good teams, but it will be mostly new teams that we’ll be playing.”
“It will be different,” said Fetterly. “Last year, we finished over .500. That’s a big deal for us. We beat [reigning Class A champ] Troy, and lost, 2-1, to [2013 AA finalist] Albany, both away games.”
The Rams won’t be entirely unfamiliar with their new rivals.
“We faced Gloversville twice last year. We played Scotia in the sectionals last year, and we’ve faced Broadalbin-Perth in the past,” Fetterly said.
“There’s some familiarity, but it’s a lot of change. So it’s a fresh start with a lot of young players.”
Natural rivalries with nearby schools is the biggest perk for Amsterdam teams.
“One of the best parts is the travel. We were kind of out here on our own in the Big 10,” Fetterly said. “The closest team was Schenectady. Everything else was Albany or Troy. Now, we’re going to be playing teams that are more local.”
Most Big 10 games had 7 p.m. starts. Broadalbin-Perth, Gloversville and Johnstown join the Rams in having the option to play night games, but in the other division, only South Glens Falls and Schuylerville have lights. The Rams play at South High and host the Black Horses, both afternoon starts.
“We usually play better at night, but then again, we have a lot of new guys,” Fetterly said. “I think they play up at night. There’s more of a crowd, their parents can get to the games after work.”
On the field, Fetterly is looking for his young team to hold its own.
“A lot of the Foothills teams play a different style than the Big 10. The better teams play a lot of possession,” he said. “It seems like it’s a two-tier league. We’ll still get a few wins here,
“The only bad part about it is we don’t play any Class AA teams. When it comes to [Class A] sectional seeding, it could hurt us.”
With the turnover in numbers and experience, Fetterly is focusing on development.
“When you have that many freshmen and sophomores, there’s potential,” he said. “But I’m going to have to rely on my returning seniors for leadership.
“A few wins would be encouraging. Just a few years ago, we were only getting two or three wins.”
The remaining refugees from the Big 10 are playing as independents, though they have largely kept their former leaguemates on their 16-game schedule.
The Schenectady boys have filled four dates by scheduling tournaments at Schalmont and Oneonta. Albany also has the Oneonta tournament on its schedule.
The Lady Patriots, who were competing against only four other teams in the Big 10, will play a mix of teams from various enrollment classifications, keeping Albany and Troy on the schedule, and adding games with Class A Scotia and Gloversville, as well as home-and-home contests with Class C teams Lake George and Hadley-Luzerne of the Adirondack League.