Clarke strike hands Bermuda victory

  • All smiles: the Bermuda and Delaware Valley players line up after the home side’s victory over their NCAA Division III opponents at the National Sports Centre on Saturday (Photograph by Ben Saunders)

Maha Clarke’s goal in the third quarter was enough to give the Bermuda women’s field hockey team a 1-0 victory over Delaware Valley College at the National Sports Centre on Saturday evening.

The match was Bermuda’s first since they finished fourth at the Central American and Caribbean Games qualifiers in Jamaica in November, and they showed plenty of pace and hunger against their NCAA Division III opponents from Pennsylvania, who provided stubborn resistance and forced a couple of decent saves from Bermuda debutant goalkeeper LaTonia Fray.

However, the Aggies’ resistance was broken down late in the third period when Clarke, who finished her sophomore season at Division II Queens University of Charlotte before heading to Jamaica with the national team, found the target from the edge of the shooting circle following a Bermuda penalty corner.

The move for the goal started when LaKae Tavares, the Bermuda captain, made a great move to find lively winger Connie Betts down the right flank. Betts then found Laura Hope on the left, who earned her side a penalty corner.

Jasmine Patterson shot the short corner with power and the ball eventually came out to the impressive Clarke, who aimed a precise shot into the right corner of the goal that would probably have been turned in by the lurking Betts on the post had it not found its target.

“Once they came back from Jamaica, their fitness was down, but once they got back into the groove again they worked,” Tse Minors, the Bermuda assistant coach, said. “Their passes were crisp, they did a good job.”

Bermuda could have scored inside the first minute. Patterson won the ball in midfield and linked up well with Azari Thomas on a give-and-go before forcing a good stop from Rosie Bishop in the Delaware Valley goal.

Patterson had another chance in the opening quarter with a slap shot from just inside the circle that was blocked and the teams went into the second period goalless after Keishae Robinson shot high and wide from a penalty corner.

Betts created Bermuda’s first chance of the second quarter, setting up Tihanna Booth, whose run was blocked just inside the circle.

However, the Aggies kept Bermuda on their toes and Fray had to make a kick save with her left foot from Isabella Demaria’s shot from point-blank range.

Chrysda Smith had Bermuda’s final chance of the first half, but her effort was well saved by Bishop after great work from Selina Whitter to set her up.

Bermuda were not letting up and Hope’s deft shot was kept out by the increasingly busy Bishop, with Whitter blasting the rebound wide before Clarke, the industrious midfielder, gave the home team a deserved lead.

Booth was unfortunate not to get on the scoresheet herself in the fourth quarter, with her pace constantly troubling the Aggies defence.

She forced a save from Bishop after being played in by Betts, had a shot deflected wide after great work in the midfield from Thomas, and had another effort blocked wide after a superb pass from Asha Trott.

Hope then had a shot well saved by Bishop before Betts rounded the night off with an effort that went just wide with the Delaware Valley keeper at full stretch after a typically incisive run from Tavares.