By Rob Wilson, Contributing writer
Transitioning from one place to another, especially to a different college program, takes time to adjust to. But sophomore standout Lindsey Nerbonne of the UNH women’s field hockey squad had no trouble.
“I forgot she was a transfer because she just fit right in,” said senior co-captain back Maegan Grew.
The Syracuse transfer joined UNH last spring. She was able to practice and plant her feet into the system, as well as learn about the teammates and coaching staff around her before the start of the fall season.
In her first year playing at New Hampshire, Nerbonne has established herself as not only a key player on the offensive end, currently the second leading scorer on the team with four goals, but a player who is very much dynamic and consistent every time she touches the field.
From the coaching staff to her teammates, there are only good things to say about Nerbonne. Whether it’s her charm, funny personality, positive attitude or her gritty competitiveness on the field, her presence is known.
When it comes to playing the game she loves, Nerbonne is very much a standout when she hits the field, according to senior co-captain goalkeeper Carlie Tarbell.
“Lindsey is one those players that makes a difference every time she steps on the field,” Tarbell said.
So what is good about her game? Just about everything.
“Her stick skills, her power, her shot and essentially everything for what we are trying to do this season,” Tarbell said. “She is dynamic and I think that is one of her best assets.”
Only a sophomore on paper, many others feel as though Nerbonne is a veteran.
“She plays beyond her years,” Grew said. “She shows maturity all over the place. As a person she embodies a teammate, inside and out. She can take criticism, and cares about helping other people. She is important to us.”
Before her time at UNH, Nerbonne was wearing Syracuse orange and blue. She played in 19 games with six starts. Over the course of the season, Nerbonne recorded four points with a goal and two assists with one of those assists coming against UNH. Not even halfway through her season wearing blue and white, she has surpassed season highs in goals and points. It is clear that Nerbonne fits right in.
“I love it here,” Nerbonne said. “I love being on this team. Everyone is awesome. The atmosphere is better here, and when I first came in the coaching staff eased me into things. I couldn’t be any happier.”
Nerbonne, a native of Bow, N.H., was heavily recruited by UNH out of Bow High School. In fact, Nerbonne was well-recognized by her now head coach Robin Balducci, who ran a camp out of the university.
“When I realized she was interesting in coming here I was excited,” Balducci said. “Graduating with the class we did last year to have a player like Lindsey’s caliber fills those gaps because of her talent. I’ve known her since a kid. She is a good person with a great family. I love coaching her because she has the will to learn.”
Nerbonne credits her family for her success. Looking up to her mother and father since day one, it was them who supported her through everything, pushing her to the level she is at now. Nerbonne’s sister, who played field hockey at Colgate University, was also an inspiration, helping teach and craft Lindsey’s game.
The first impression on Nerbonne coming into the UNH program was that “she was a little quiet” according to senior co-captain and midfielder Kellie Joyce who happened to play with Nerbonne on a club level before college.
“I think she has meshed into the program really well,” Joyce said. “Obviously, UNH field hockey is about working really hard every day, and putting the best effort in. She pretty much is that type of player.”
With an established title as a player, Nerbonne is also one who is easy-going and fun outside the locker room.
“She is an even keel off the field,” Tarbell said. “You can joke with her easily. One thing that stands out about Lindsey as a person is the fact she does things that she can only do.”
An example of this was when Nerbonne walked into a team meeting wearing a butterfly-printed field hockey shirt. Her teammates still tease her about it to this day, but that is what is great about Nerbonne; she has fun in her own skin.
As far as her goals are this season, Nerbonne hopes to contribute in any way that she can for her team, win the conference, and make it to NCAA tournament.
To describe Nerbonne in one word, Balducci chose “tenacious”.
“She works her tail off in everything. It could be running after a loose ball, going through a drill, it’s awesome having that type of player on our team.”
Nerbonne is a workhorse. No matter what it is one can always see her giving it 100 percent. With her over-the-top effort, it is always expected of Nerbonne to perform, and contribute every game. But does this pressure overwhelm her at times?
“Coach told me I was going to have pressure on me when I came in,” Nerbonne said. “It feels good to have the pressure on me. I want to help the team in any way that I can.”
Balducci is fond of a quote to resonate with Nerbonne by Jimmie Johnson, former head coach of the Dallas Cowboys.
Jimmie Johnson was accused of having favorite players.
“Yes, I have favorite players. Those that are good are my favorite players, and those that are good and work hard are my very favorite players,” Balducci quoted from Johnson. “I love that line, because as a coach if you had every player like that on a team you could win a championship. That is Lindsey.”