When the Stuart Country Day School lacrosse team played the Hun School in 2012, it wasn’t much of a contest as the Tartans fell 17-6 to their crosstown rivals.
Things were a lot different when the local foes met last week at Stuart as the game, played in a downpour, turned into a nailbiter.
Stuart trailed 7-5 at halftime and was down 12-8 midway through the second half and then reeled off four unanswered goals to make it a 12-12 contest. Hun scored to make it 13-12 and then the Tartans had a last-gasp effort, missing a free position with 20 seconds left to fall just short.
“It was a good game,” said Stuart head coach Caitlin Grant, whose team dropped to 3-3 with the one-goal defeat.
“In the first part of the second half, they got up four goals and we really started working hard in the last part of the game. Tori [Hannah] had two goals, Julia [Maser] had two goals. Everyone came together. The defense had a sense of urgency; they realized that we needed the ball and they got it for us. Sometimes, they play off the offense but they were all over them. We stayed right in it, they had to work for that win.”
With the program coming off a 4-9 campaign last spring, Grant believes her team is headed in the right direction. “I am pretty happy with the way we are playing,” said Grant. “The games where we have won, we have looked great.”
The squad’s core of sophomores, Hannah and Maser along with Sam Servis, Harley Guzman, Armani King, Kim Rodas, and Rose Tetnowski have made great progress.
“They have a year under their belts,” said Grant. ”They have really improved and they are really leaders for us.”
Maser, for her part, has emerged as one of the leading scoring threats in the area. “Julia runs all over the field, she is a machine,” said Grant of Maser, who tallied six goals and two assists in the loss to Hun.
“She plays in an outside league. She is a threat this year and she knows it. Last year she would pass it to the older players sometimes.”
The Tartans are also getting some good play from this year’s crop of freshmen.
“They have stepped up,” said Grant. “Mary O’Boyle is one who just picked up the stick this year but you would never know. We needed a low attacker and she stepped into that role. She has taken it upon herself to get extra practice, she is playing a lot of wall ball. Isabelle Engel has been playing at low attack, she is pretty seasoned. She sees the field and understands the game, she knows where to cut.”
Senior star Amy Hallowell brings a lot of game to Stuart. “Amy is always all over the field, from one end to the other,” said Grant.
“I can rely on her to never slack. If there is a ground ball or missed shot, she is there going after it. She is one of the captains and she keeps the momentum of the team going. She will take it upon herself to call out the girls.”
Sophomore goalie Harlyn Bell’s superb play in the crease has given the team momentum.
“Harlyn played awesome against Hun,” said Grant of Bell, who had 16 saves in the loss. “She went to two camps last summer and she has really improved. I am really impressed with the way she is playing.”
In Grant’s view, the Tartans are ready to get over the hump in the close games.
“We are going to be the team that gets better and better,” said Grant, whose team plays at Nottingham on April 24.
“We are on the cusp. We have shown we can compete against the seasoned teams. We just need to do the little things and we’ll be winning some of these close games.”