As the Stuart Country Day field hockey team played at Princeton Day School last week, Missy Bruvik carried on a constant dialog with her players, instructing both those on the field and the others on the bench.
With a roster containing eight freshman and five sophomores, head coach Bruvik knows that her team has a steep learning curve this fall.
“There are teaching moments all game long,” said Bruvik, who is returning to the helm of the program after coaching Stuart 21 years through 2006 and then taking a break to follow her daughter Kelly’s field hockey career at Bucknell.
“I have always talked to the kids on the bench during the games. It keeps them engaged. They are learning and they appreciate what the kids on the field are doing. They have a better idea of what they need to do when they get playing time.”
In the first half against a tough, veteran PDS squad, Stuart applied those lessons, holding its own as it only trailed 2-1 at the half of the September 11 contest.
“They are taking everything that they are learning,” said Bruvik of her club. “PDS is a very good team; it was nice to see us hang in there against them. We were getting the ball in the circle more.”
It was also nice for Bruvik to get some good work from such freshmen as Julia Maser, Tori Hannah, and Sam Servis. “Julia had a nice goal; that was her second goal of the season,” said Bruvik.
“Tori Hannah worked hard at both ends of the field from the right midfield spot. Sam Servis did a good job, she won some 50/50 balls for us.”
In the second half, though, the team’s inexperience was evident as PDS pulled away to a 6-1 victory.
“We ran out of steam against a very tenacious team,” said Bruvik, whose club fell 4-0 to Lawrenceville last Saturday to move to 1-3. “We are still working on figuring out what is the best system for this team.”
The Tartans got some good work in the PDS game from senior Nicole Starke together with juniors Amy Hallowell and Margaret La Nasa.
“I think Nicole Starke and Amy Hallowell did as much as they could,” said Bruvik, whose team plays at the Academy of New Church on September 19 before hosting South Hunterdon on September 21 and the Pennington School on September 24.
“Margaret LaNasa did a good job in goal; she faced a lot of shots. She is really holding her own; she is learning a lot from Gia [Stuart assistant coach and former star goalie Gia Fruscione]. She is a good student; she is making a lot of progress.”
Bruvik believes that her young squad is studious collectively. “They are learning,” asserted Bruvik. “We go through drills and take our time and tell them this is why we are doing this. We just need to keep playing.”