Lunenburg Community Comes Together to Help a Family in Need
LUNENBURG -- Tuesday night’s Lunenburg High field hockey game was just what Hailey Nogler needed.
A welcome distraction after a long day, a reason to smile. And a reminder that the Nogler family isn’t facing a massive challenge alone.
Nogler’s 3-year-old daughter, Karlee, has battled leukemia for more than a year and, after a rough day of treatment Tuesday, being able to return to her alma mater and watch the Blue Knights play in honor of her daughter was just what the doctor ordered.
Lunenburg’s 4-1 victory over St. Bernard’s was a bonus on a night when all the money collected at the gate, through raffles and from a food truck, was going to the Nogler family.
“It’s incredible. It was a really hard day for Karlee today at the clinic,” said Nogler, who attended the game with her two oldest daughters, while her husband Seth was home with Karlee and her brother. “We got here from Boston as quickly as we could. We were 15 minutes late for the game, but there was no way we were going to miss it.
“Coming in after a really hard day, seeing all this love and support. ... They made signs, shirts, it was just incredible. It was heartwarming for sure.”
Nogler played with field hockey at Lunenburg with several Blue Knights assistant coaches, as well as St. Bernard’s head coach Olvia Arciprete.
“it was nice to be able to come here and connect with them and reflect, with them supporting Karlee, but also being able to remember some happy memories,” Nogler said.
The game itself saw the Blue Knights (8-5-4) jump out to a 3-0 lead by the end of the first half. Kayla Rhoades and Emma Marinchev scored in the first two minutes and Jinnie Do redirected a hard shot By Abigail Koziol into the cage to put the hosts up by three.
Marinchev added her second goal of the game late in the second half to put the game out of reach after the Bernardians (3-12-1) had cut the lead to 3-1.
“We’ve been working on our possessing of the ball and not just receiving it, but taking it into space and looking for a smart pass,” Lunenburg head coach Jen Biery said. “When we do that, we have a fantastic game. That’s what today was about; when we do that, everything else falls into place if we possess the ball.
“Defensively, we were really strong, our transitions were nice and we were able to get it in the net. All around, I was proud of the girls.”
Arciprete said she was proud of her team’s effort, playing with just 10 players in the second night of week that will see the Bernardians play five games in five days.
“We’ve been playing with a short bench all season and I was worried about this game because of the turf,” Arciprete said. “It’s hard to keep up with a turf team with 10 players and no subs, but I was impressed with how the girls played. I’ve got nothing to complain about. These girls just keep going and stay positive.”
Kara Boissoneau converted a strong pass from Tori Hanlon 10 minutes into the second half to account for the Bernardian goal.
With heavy rain and lightning rolling through the region just prior to the game, Biery said her players were pleased simply to have the chance to play for a cause near and dear to everyone on the team.
“It’s a really special night,” Biery said. “We really wanted this game to happen. The weather was a little rough, but we ended up with a double-rainbow over the field. We’ve had a lot of different people in our group touched by cancer, and it affects just about everyone in some way.”
After the game, the Lunenburg players and coaches lined up in the center of the field with luminaria bags in front of each of them, representing a family member or friend who had been impacted by cancer. Both teams came together after the ceremony, tears mixing with smiles.
“Somebody at the clinic today said being part of the cancer community is like being part of the best club you never wanted to be in,” Nogler said. “You get all kinds of love and support that you never wanted to need, but it’s the best. There’s nothing like a community coming out like this.”
Follow Nick Mallard on Twitter @n_mallard.