Bolstered by Influx of Talented Freshmen, Stuart Field Hockey Looking Formidable
VIVA LA FRANCOIS: Stuart Country Day School field hockey player Priscilla Francois runs upfield in 2017 action. Senior star Francois will be anchoring the back line this fall for Stuart. The Tartans get their season underway when they host Burlington City High on September 6. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
Youth will be served this fall for the Stuart Country Day field hockey team.
“We have 10 freshmen out coupled with eight sophomores,” said Stuart head coach Missy Bruvik, who guided the Tartans to a 9-10-1 record last fall and the state Prep B semifinals.
“The freshmen are committed to the game. We have some kids that are playing club and it is clear in their stick work and their field sense and the kind of dynamic that they have already brought.”
Dynamic senior Priscilla Francois will be anchoring the back line. “Priscilla has been so versatile for three years; she is filling our center back position right now,” said Bruvik, whose defensive unit will also include seniors Breasia Williams, Bey-Shana Clark, and Millie Brigaud along with freshman Adrianna Palmer.
“We have moved her off the forward line. We are utilizing her speed and her leadership skills to help control the backfield and help our midfielders.”
At goalie, Stuart will be featuring two of its young players to fill the void left by graduated senior star Sam Johnson.
“We have two brand new keepers; we have a freshman, Audrey Blandford, who is in the futures program,” said Bruvik.
“Janiah Adams, a sophomore, has stepped up to also help and play some goalie for us. She never played it before but is clearly very coachable.”
In the midfield, junior Caroline Mullen has been stepping up for the Tartans. “Caroline Mullen is just seeing the field beautifully; she is controlling the midfield for us right now and doing a great job, finding her teammates and finishing,” said Bruvik, noting that a pair of freshmen, Kaitlyn Magnani and Anna Gill, are also standing out in midfield. “She has taken her game to a new level this summer.” Along the forward line, Bruvik has a number of options including seniors Meghan Leibowitz, Lauren Magnani, Maria McBride, and Emma Shaw along with junior Aditi Mehendiratta, sophomores Catherine Martin, Molly Lagay, and Hailey Hawes and freshmen Molly Shore, Haley Sullivan, and Caroline Johnson.
“On the line, it is probably going to be a rotation; I think all of these kids are really capable of finishing,” said Bruvik.
“We have to find the right combination that works well. I think we are going to have a lot more options on our offense. With the experience in the backfield this year and the dynamics of the midfield, they are able to push through more. We are going to have more shots and create opportunities in the circle.”
While Bruvik knows she will have to show patience as the young players are incorporated into the rotation, the Tartans appear to be coming together quickly.
“We have a lot of young players with a lot of versatility, so finding where are they going to best help the team is going to be a key,” said Bruvik.
“I think we are starting to make it happen. We went down to Stone Ridge (Md.) and Holton Arms (Md.) for scrimmages and we played them tough. Clearly it takes time to create the chemistry but I am really pleased with the chemistry of this team so far. Sometimes it happens sooner rather than later and I feel like it’s happening sooner with the communication on the field. There has been better communication off the field with these kids, and that is important.”