What started as a sunny affair had distant thunder rumbling as halftime began. Then came the lightning, and the field hockey match-up between Carle Place and New Hyde Park was officially put on hold.
As both teams huddled into separate corners of Carle Place’s gym waiting for play to resume, the home team’s 1-0 edge at halftime quickly became the final score. The officials and coaches decided there wouldn’t be enough daylight after waiting out the mandatory 30 minutes for every sky bolt.
Senior Elissa Frein’s goal was the lone first-half highlight and would be the game-winner of the storm-shortened contest. Kailin O’Brian got the assist, finding Frein who relented in the scrum to sneak it past New Hyde Park goalie Ann Grimshaw in the 15th minute.
After dominating possession for much of the half and failing to convert on a last-minute opportunity set up by a penalty corner, Carle Place coach Carol Nesdill was not happy with the score.
“It’s upsetting when you play down, when you don’t play up to your potential,” Nesdill said. “I mean, we’re 8-1, we should be dominating New Hyde Park…but we would have got it done [in the] second half, trust me.”
In her 14th season, Nesdill has built up the school’s program, leading Carle Place (9-1) to last year’s Long Island Class C Championship, its first since 2001.
While waiting out the storm Oct. 9, Nesdill—a Carle Place High School alum—couldn’t help but remember her coach, Becky King, for whom the gymnasium is named. Inducted into the Nassau County High School Athletics Hall of Fame this year, King spent 30 years in the Carle Place School District as a teacher, seven-sport coach and Director of Girls Athletics.
King won the school’s first field hockey county championship, inspiring Nesdill to not only coach, but to spread the interest of the sport throughout the town and the island. The 2014 Nassau County Coach of the Year started the LIFHA junior league more than a decade ago, getting girls acquainted with the sport as early as fourth grade, many of whom are Carle Place residents who feed into her system.
With that culture instilled, Nesdill expects her girls to dominate weaker competition.
“We work out all summer,” she said. “These kids dedicate a lot of time to field hockey. They don’t show up Aug. 29 and say ‘Let’s go.’ They’ve already done all their running and all their working out and all their camps and now we’re ready to go so it’s accepted that we have a winning mentality.”
Though not using the surface as an excuse, Nesdill said the grass made an impact, opposed to the turf they are accustomed to. Either way, her star player Frein came to play. The fifth-year varsity player—who had 47 goals to lead the county last year, 31 more than second-place finisher and teammate Shannon McGuinness—has 14 goals this year, good enough for second in the county.
“Her speed, her dodges right now, her strength, her experience,” Nesdill said. “All that stuff translates to senior year, ‘I’ve got all the tools in my tool box, now let’s get it done,’ and she’s getting it together.”
The struggling New Hyde Park squad (2-8) came in riding a two-game skid, but took the field with energy against Conference I’s top team. Head coach Kori Brocking was hoping her team would have a chance for an equalizer in the last 30 minutes, but was shut down by the weather.
“It’s a tough thing to kind of have to swallow right now,” she said, “but otherwise, it’s still seen as we played with a good team so that’s good.”
Brocking recognized the talent of Carle Place and said the competitive half was a moral victory for her girls. She hopes it will provide some momentum heading into the final games of the season, which concludes Oct. 14 at North Shore.
“For us to hang in there with them is important,” said Brocking. “If we can kind of use this as a feather in our cap and have some confidence going into a big game, who knows what can happen there.”