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Berry's goal sends Clarke over Manhasset

Clarke forward Caileigh Berry brings the ball into

Clarke forward Caileigh Berry brings the ball into the offensive zone against New Hyde Park. (Sept. 28, 2013) Credit: Steven Ryan

When was the last time this happened?

That was the question immediately posed to Leslie Murray Friday night. Players, parents, spectators -- and, yes, reporters -- all wanted to know.

"And to be honest, I can't even remember," the Clarke field hockey coach said. "We're going all the way back to the early '90s for that."

That was the last time Clarke beat Manhasset . . . before Friday.

Caileigh Berry scored an unassisted goal seven minutes into the second half and the Rams held on to edge the Indians, 1-0, in Conference I.

"It's so hard to describe it," said Murray, in her 26th season as the coach. "You put the goal in and you're happy, but you know that any minute, that team can pop two goals in."

Manhasset didn't, thanks to Clarke's defense, led by Danielle Ragusa and Angelica Gargiulo. Her twin, Amanda Gargiulo, made five saves for the Rams (8-1).

Clarke was the host and its grass field was to its advantage, Murray said. Still, most considered this an improbable win.

Technically, the victory wasn't an upset for Clarke, which is 12-1 overall. But, lest we forget, Manhasset (9-3) is the defending Nassau Class B champion and has been a force in this conference for almost 20 years.

"You can never let up against them," said Murray, whose team lost to Manhasset, 1-0, last year in their previous meeting. "That second half, it was about staying focused and trying to keep the girls hustling, and keep their wits about them."

The Indians had a 9-7 advantage in penalty corners, but Clarke's defense nullified those opportunities.

Berry gained possession of the ball during a scramble in front of the cage and pushed a hard shot behind the goalie.

After scoring, Clarke "went through a lull" midway through the second half before rebounding and controlling the ball in the final 10 minutes.

"We seemed to have an extra spurt at the end of the game," Murray said. "But that seems to be the way for them."

The Rams' loss this season came to Garden City, 3-0, on Wednesday. It was a matchup of Nassau's last remaining undefeated teams and the Trojans now are 13-0. Could that loss have bruised Clarke's confidence, even a tad?

"They put it out of their minds and knew they could wind up seeing [Garden City] again," Murray said, referring to a possible playoff rematch.

The Rams, as the No. 5 seed and a .500 team last season, were bumped out of the first round. But yesterday's win likely secured Clarke a top-two seed.

"They celebrated and were happy, but it was like, 'OK, on to the next game,'" Murray said of her players' reaction. "They don't go crazy when they win now; they expect to."

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