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Clarke field hockey keeps winning, but it hasn't been easy

Clarke forward Marina Abbatello (no. 3) sprints down

Clarke forward Marina Abbatello (no. 3) sprints down a loose ball in a game against New Hyde Park. (Sept. 28, 2013) Photo Credit: Steven Ryan

Pop quiz! Which two Nassau field hockey teams are undefeated?

OK, Garden City. That was the easy one. And?

Clarke.

But winning is hardly ever easy, and even more seldom is it smooth for Clarke. Literally, too, considering the Rams home "turf" is the middle school baseball field.

Agita, as coach Leslie Murray calls it, is evident in her leaps and screams and, sometimes, groans during games.

But Caileigh Berry and Lauren Reilly's first-half goals lifted Clarke to a 2-1 win over New Hyde Park yesterday, which improved them to 6-0. It was their third consecutive one-goal victory -- the previous two coming in the last minute of regulation and overtime.

A little reminiscent of the 2011 season, Murray said. That year, Clarke reached the Nassau Class B semifinals? with four overtime wins and three ties along the way.

"It's always nerve-racking and we know Murray is over having a heart attack," Berry joked. "But it is exciting."

The Rams rarely dominate but they have shown thus far that fundamentals, hustle and timely scoring go a long way. Jessica Gibaldi (seven points), Berry and Bailey McNamara (six each) lead in scoring and Natalie Morano controls the midfield. Angelica Gargiulo, Danielle Ragusa and Kalianne Terry anchor a defense that has held opponent to three goals.

"They feel the pressure of the close games, but they've performed regardless," Murray said. "And (goalie) Amanda Gargiulo helps that because she's always a calming influence."

Even through the anxiety.

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