BRIDGEWATER — For Bridgewater-Raritan and Hillsborough, two schools that haven’t been open since Hurricane Sandy made landfall, getting back onto the field and playing a field hockey game was one way to restore a bit of normalcy to their lives.
The host Panthers rolled to a 10-1 victory to advance to the semifinals of the North 2, Group IV state tournament, but it was more than a game for both schools.
“For whatever reason, the time off really increased their finishing ability, so I think it actually helped us a little bit,” Bridgewater-Raritan head coach Kathie DeBonis said. “We’re really trying to get back to normal; we were really trying to get back to practice and be back to business as usual and get back to a state of normalcy. It’s good for them and it’s good for everybody to get back to doing things in a regular routine.”
Catherine Caro scored three times and added two assists for the Panthers, but said that she and her teammates have tried to just stay focused over the last week, communicating as often as possible and trying to stay fit.
“We’ve been texting back and forth and stuff to make sure everyone’s running and if they can, getting a stick on the ball, even passing to someone in your backyard or something,” Caro said. “We just wanted to try and stay in shape and not fall off.”
Bridgewater-Raritan had practiced Sunday and Monday, but DeBonis said that her team bonded over the week off, doing things together and keeping their focus along the way.
“Everybody is back and forth with each other; they’re not only friends on the field, but they’re friends off the field as well, so they do everything in a pack of 20,” DeBonis said. “They were together the whole time (that we didn’t have school), whether they were at somebody’s house that had heat or whatever the case was. We did have quite a few days off, but I have to tell you, the kids looked great in practice.”
But Hillsborough hasn’t been so lucky, and their head coach Lyndsay Boettke said her home is still without power and she was very limited in how she was able to communicate with her team over the last week.
“It was tough, I mean I still have girls without power and the internet has been down and some of the girls couldn’t charge their phones,” Boettke said. “A lot of girls left town to be with family up in North Jersey, because they didn’t have power. We had practice the last couple of days, but we couldn’t make it mandatory and I think we had 14 girls one day and 10 another before finally getting everyone together Monday. They couldn’t even run around their neighborhoods because the streets are a mess and this really affected us big time.”
Boettke said her team should have been going into this matchup with some momentum, after beating Monroe in the first round of the tournament on Oct. 25. She said the break couldn’t have come at worse time for her squad, especially with Bridgewater-Raritan looming. But the Raiders’ coach knows that she did all she could to try and keep her team ready to play against one of the best teams in the state.
“Obviously I wished the game had gone a little bit differently, but that’s what happens when you don’t play for so long,” Boettke said.