Vol. LXII, No. 36
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
(Photo by Bill Allen/NJ SportAction)
HAPPY DAYS: Stuart Country Day field hockey star Caroline Passano celebrates after scoring the winning goal in Stuarts 2-1 win over Allentown last fall in the Mercer County Tournament (MCT) championship game. Stuart went on to finish 20-1-3 and share the state Prep title with Lawrenceville. The Tartans will be looking to senior star Passano to provide more clutch goals this fall as they defend their titles.
Katie Grant enjoyed a spectacular debut season last fall as she took the helm of the Stuart Country Day field hockey program.
The former Duke University star guided the Tartans to a 20-1-3 record in a campaign which saw Stuart win its third straight Mercer County Tournament and tie Lawrenceville for the state Prep title.
As Grant gets ready for her second season heading the program, she knows last years accomplishments dont guarantee anything this fall.
They know me and what I expect but every year is different, said Grant, whose team opens its 2008 season by hosting Academy of New Church on September 5 before playing at Princeton Day School on September 9.
We will have different players out there and this is a totally different season. We had success last year but I dont want to compare teams or put pressure on them. We need to get better one game at a time and if we do that, well be where we want to be at the end of the season.
Grant is banking on the teams core of seniors to have Stuart in the title hunt by the end of the fall.
We do have a big group of seniors, said Grant, whose senior standouts include Jackie Gaudioso-Radvany, Caroline Passano, Clodah Coughlan, Haley Meagher, and Kate Wiles.
A lot have played a lot of games, some havent. Im hoping they really step up and lay it on the line. I really like this group of seniors; they are all about leading and they want to help the others out.
Stuart is going to need help in its defensive unit which lost stars Katie Baker and Jenae Harrington to graduation.
We have some big shoes to fill; people are going to have to play different positions, said Grant.
People who havent had a lot of experience are going to get a chance. We are looking at Courtney Alexander, Margaret Mackinson, Julia Wiles, Olivia Wiles, and Sarah Schulte.
The Stuart defense will be fortified by the presence of experienced senior goalie Coughlan.
Clodah has worked extremely hard since last season; she did a ton of outside play with her club and the futures program, added Grant.
Shes gotten a lot better individually. She didnt see a lot of shots last year and she does feel really ready to step up.
Stuart figures to see a lot of shots from its dynamic offensive combination of Gaudioso-Radvany and Passano.
Its good to have both of them back, asserted Grant. They had a good connection last year and I hope they have the same thing this year.
The superb sniper Gaudioso-Radvany, who has already committed to college power North Carolina, is looking to diversify her game.
I hope she will be more versatile, said Grant of leading scorer Gaudioso-Radvany who came up repeatedly in Stuarts playoff run.
She played midfield in our scrimmage the other day and I liked the way she got more touches.
Passano, for her part, figures to keep Stuarts foes off balance. She looks good; she is unpredictable, said Grant. She is all over the field; she works both ends of the field.
Stuart will need that kind of effort collectively if it is to be a title contender.
Each person has to take care of their responsibility when they are on the field; it has to be a total team effort, maintained Grant.
We have a big team and a lot of people should see time. Whether a player comes off the bench or is a starter, she needs to do her job.
While last years record may mean nothing this fall, Stuarts tradition of producing hard-working and cohesive teams has given it an edge year in, year out.
I always have high expectations because they are great people and great players; a lot of them worked very hard in the off season, said Grant.
We have a lot of fun. They know how to work hard and have fun. We have one-a-day practices that go 3½ to 4 hours but the time flies by. They enjoy it and thats what high school sports are about.
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