June 5, 2019

Stuart Lacrosse Overcame Shaky 1-4 Start, Righting the Ship as Seniors Led the Way

BRINGING IT: Stuart Country Day School lacrosse player Kaitlyn Magnani brings the ball upfield in a game this spring. Freshman midfielder Magnani provided a spark for Stuart as it overcame a 1-4 start to finish with a 6-7 record, advancing to the second round of the Mercer County Tournament and the state Prep B quarters along the way. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

After getting off to a 1-4 start, it looked like it could be a rough spring for the Stuart Country Day School lacrosse team.

But Stuart reeled off five straight wins to right the ship,  showing that it wasn’t about to fold after the bumpy beginning.

“It was the consistency that was working for us once we got a better transition game down,” said Stuart head coach Missy Bruvik.

“That is when we were really getting to know each other’s strengths and who was going to be playing where. To the kids’ credit, we were able to move many kids around to different positions.”

While the Tartans fell in the second round of the Mercer County Tournament and the state Prep B quarters after posting wins in both tourneys, Bruvik liked the way her kids competed to the end.

“We played tough teams down the stretch,” said Bruvik,  whose squad lost 18-5 to Princeton Day School in the MCT and then fell 16-2 to Montclair Kimberley in the Prep B competition.

“The kids played hard and never quit; that is all you can ask for. We did get better.”

In reflecting on the spring, which saw the Tartans finish with a 6-7 record, Bruvik credited her senior group with holding things together.

“The seniors led the team; they had each other’s backs against those tough teams,” said Bruvik of her Class of 2019 which included Grace Sheppard, Bre Williams, Bey-Shana Clark, Lauren Magnani, Meghan Leibowitz, and Emma Shaw. “They worked hard, the communication definitely got better.”

Freshman standout Jaelyn Bennett gave Stuart some stellar work on attack.

“Jaelyn has great talent, she brought great knowledge of the game to all of us and shared all of that,” said Bruvik. “She was a force on attack. She scored over 40 goals and was our leading scorer.”

Looking ahead, Bruvik believes that junior Caroline Mullen and sophomore Catherine Martin should be key leaders next spring.

“We have some good kids who will be juniors and seniors next year,” added Bruvik, whose returners include sophomores Molly Lagay, Janiah Adams, and Hailey Hawes.

“Caroline can play anywhere. She can play offense, she can play defense, and we can put her in the midfield. We asked Catherine to play much more defense this year for us because we really wanted to work on building from the backfield up. She was great down there with Bey and Bre.”

The Tartans also got a great contribution collectively from their freshman group. “Molly Shore was making saves and keeping us in those games which was huge,” said Bruvik.

“That allowed us to put the ball in and win some games. She never played goalie before and we really felt like she was the hero this year. She was always eager to learn and put her heart and soul into it. Kaitlyn Magnani had a fabulous year for us, we put her at center and we couldn’t ask for more. She was good at taking and winning the draws. Haley Sullivan had a nice season on attack. Trinity Broughton gave us help at both ends. We asked her to play a little bit of defense and she also did a great job of contributing on attack. Adrianna Palmer was very steady at midfield and defense.”

In Bruvik’s view, Stuart has a nice foundation in place heading into next season.

“Those kids gained a lot of experience; we still had some new kids, first timers learning the game,” said Bruvik.

“With their game sense, Adrianna and Kaitlyn should feel very comfortable coming back next year and being major contributors.”