Let’s stick together, says Clarke

  • Eyes on the ball: Clarke, centre, shoots for Bermuda against NCAA Division III Susquehanna University before setting up Harris, right, for the winner in Bermuda’s 1-0 victory (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
  • Booth holds off a Susquehanna player (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Bermuda forward Maha Clarke urged the island to get behind the national team after helping them to a 1-0 victory over NCAA Division III Susquehanna University at the National Sports Centre yesterday evening.

“We definitely need Bermuda to back us up and support us,” Clarke said. “We don’t have a great fanbase, but we’re getting there. It would be amazing to have the community come out to see what hockey’s all about.”

Clarke, who leaves the island for North Carolina today for her sophomore season at Division II Queens University of Charlotte, set up Bermuda’s only goal against their Pennsylvania-based opponents. Her pass into the shooting circle was eventually converted by fellow forward Georgia Harris eight minutes into the second half.

It was just reward for the home side, who created several chances and could have won by more, but for more composure and a bit of nous in front of goal.

Bermuda had two great chances in the first five minutes. Maya Palacio found Harris, who has just graduated from Division I La Salle University in Philadelphia, with a long pass down the left, but nobody was there to turn in Harris’s cross across the face of goal. Tihanna Booth then ran through into the circle, but could not get her shot off.

“What we definitely worked on is working together as a unit going forward,” Clarke said. “It’s just a matter of communicating to each other who’s backing up for them.

“We have to be hungry to score. We’re going to the [Central American and Caribbean Games] qualifiers in November [in Jamaica] and if you’re not hungry to score, you can’t win.”

Booth, Harris, Clarke, Palacio and Azari Thomas were all lively going forward, while a defence marshalled superbly by the experienced LaKae Tavares and Jennifer Beech held their American opponents to just one short corner — which came with only eight minutes remaining.

Clarke was especially praiseworthy of Bermuda’s experienced players.

“All the senior players are great people to look up to in terms of their intensity and experience, so we just need to keep field hockey growing in Bermuda,” she said.

But for now, Clarke is heading back to college after starting five games and scoring once in her freshman year at Queens for a programme in only its first year too.

“We did pretty well, we had a winning record and it was such an amazing experience,” Clarke said. “There were so many teams who had programmes going for years and they couldn’t believe we were a first-year team.”

Bermuda take on Division III sides Rochester, on Friday and Monday both at 6pm, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute, on Sunday and next Tuesday, both at 6pm.

They then meet NCAA Division II school Shippensburg at 6pm on Saturday, August 19. In between games against Bermuda, the American universities will also be taking on mixed sides from the island.