Even though the Stuart Country Day School field hockey team won only three games last fall, the players didn’t get discouraged.
“Granted we went 3-14-1 but the girls didn’t come off the field feeling defeated very often,” said Stuart head coach Missy Bruvik. “There were a lot of close games. We had a lot of improvement.”
As Bruvik gets ready for the second year of her return engagement guiding the Tartans, she is depending on a group of stellar sophomores to continue the improvement made last fall.
“I think there are seven of them; they make up half of the varsity roster,” said Bruvik, who led the program to several county and prep titles in her first tenure which lasted 21 years and ended in 2006.
“Some of them played club and went to camps; they look like they have that one more year of experience. They are bigger, faster, and smarter on the ball. They are getting to know each other better. They know coming into preseason what I am expecting in terms of conditioning and ball control.
Bruvik will be relying on four of those sophomores to trigger the Tartan offense.
“We have Sarah Barkley, Elena Bernewitz, Catherine Donahue, and Sam Servis on attack,” said Bruvik of the quartet of 10th graders. “Sam’s stick skills have really improved.”
Two veterans, juniors Nneka Onukwugha and Madison Kirton, are looking more skilled at forward.
“Nneka has really improved,” added Bruvik. “Madison Kirton is in her second year and she is better.”
Senior star Amy Hallowell figures to be one of the better players in the county this fall.
“We are going to have Amy at center back,” said Bruvik. “We want her to control the ball all over the field, on transition, and on corners. We also need her to be good on defensive corners. We are really looking at her to distribute the ball.”
Stuart is looking for sophomore standouts Tori Hannah and Julia Maser to be scoring threats.
“Tori and Julia will be in midfield,” said Bruvik. “Julia has incredible endurance and is a smart player. I expect her to do a good job this year. Tori is looking good, we could also use her on attack. She has a knack for finishing.”
The quartet of senior Meghan Shannon, junior Asha Mohandes, junior Faye Plambeck, and sophomore Kate Walsh, will be leading the backline.
“Meghan, Asha and Faye are on defense,” said Bruvik. “Kate Walsh is very versatile; she can play in the backfield or at mid.”
Senior goalie Margaret LaNasa has been playing well in the preseason. “Margaret is looking good, she looks so much more comfortable this year,” said Bruvik, noting that LaNasa just started playing goalie as a junior.
“She has her routine with Gia [assistant coach and former Princeton University goalie Gia Fruscione], who has really helped her.”
Bruvik believes that the Tartans can do some good things this fall. “We have got to finish,” said Bruvik, whose team starts the season by playing at the Springside Chestnut Hill Academy (Pa.) on September 6.
“Last year it was not for lack of effort, we worked hard to get the ball into the circle. We need to be stronger at keeping the ball on our sticks in the circle. We have a good combination of speed and aggressiveness. We need to try to build on that.”