Oyster Bay's Joanna Sugar looked to the sky, raised her arms and smiled. Finally!
Except the game wasn't over.
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In field hockey, the scoreboard clock stops with two minutes left and an official keeps time. The ball was near midfield with about 10 seconds remaining and Oyster Bay clinging to a one-goal lead. Sugar wasn't certain about the time; she simply knew it was their moment.
"Our bench was already screaming," the senior said. "With all we've been through, and to overcome and be so close to winning, I just felt it."
3 . . . 2 . . . 1 . . .
The whistle blew and it was official. Hannah Kaiser's first-half goal held up as second-seeded Oyster Bay edged No. 3 Carle Place, 1-0, Friday in a Nassau Class C semifinal.
Oyster Bay avenged last year's semifinal loss to the Frogs and advanced to the county final "for the first time in probably 20 years," coach Morgan Cestari said. They'll face seven-time defending champion Friends Academy Sunday at Adelphi.
Oyster Bay's road here was filled with diversions. Shaken by superstorm Sandy, several players' homes are still without electricity, Kaiser said. The high school has been open for classes only two days since, and Wednesday's nor'easter forced the cancellation of after-school activities. By district rules, Cestari said, a coach can't hold practice if the school is closed.
"So we called a captains' practice on Tuesday," Sugar said. She, along with Brianna Carnachio and Ally Puccio, organized their teammates to work out and conduct drills.
"We didn't get that much done skillswise, but it helped us refocus," Kaiser said. "We knew what was at stake."
Kaiser scored off a cross from Kelsey Doyle 5:52 in for Oyster Bay (8-7) and its defense withstood 11 penalty corners, including six in succession early in the first half. Freshman Anna Montick made six saves -- one on a penalty stroke -- to earn the shutout.
Lydia Rice had seven saves for Carle Place (11-5).
"It's been tough to keep sharp without practice, but in a game like this, your instincts take over," Montick said. "We're fired up; we're gonna play for a championship!"