September 4, 2019

Stuart Field Hockey Emphasizing Fundamentals As it Looks to Build on Last Season’s Success

FIRING LINE: Stuart Country Day School midfielder Caroline Mullen fires the ball up the field in a game last fall. Senior star Mullen figures to be a catalyst for Stuart again this season. The Tartans open their 2019 season by hosting South Hunterdon on September 6. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

As the Stuart Country Day School field hockey team went through its preseason practices over the last two weeks of August, the focus was on sharpening fundamentals.

“I am really proud of the kids and how hard they are working and the improvement that we are seeing in the last couple of weeks,” said Stuart head coach Missy Bruvik.

“It is getting down all of those basic skills and to make sure that we are sound in them. The kids are putting in a good effort.”

With the Tartans coming off a very good 2018 campaign which saw them go 12-5 and make the state Prep B semis and the Mercer County Tournament quarterfinals, the squad’s veterans are bringing increased confidence into the fall.

“I think that [last season’s success] is a bonus for us heading into this year with the number of kids who do return and played together last year,” said Bruvik, whose team opens its 2019 season by hosting South Hunterdon on September 6.

“Our goal is to really build on last year’s success. They are also really serious about everyday, taking away something from practice and translating that into game play and successful scrimmages. We went down the Washington D.C. for scrimmages and the kids played well down there.”

Bruvik is looking for senior Caroline Mullen, junior Molly Lagay, junior Morgan John, freshman Lily Harlan, and senior Aditi Mehndiratta to put things together on the front line.

“Caroline is an attacking middie, she is doing a phenomenal job in terms of leadership and keeping the energy going day in and day out at practice,” said Bruvik.

“Molly will be on the forward line. Morgan has returned to play for us, she is doing a great job up front. Lily is doing a dynamite job up on the offensive line. Aditi will also be playing attack.”

A trio of sophomores, Kaitlyn Magnani, Keya Patel, and Adrianna Palmer along with junior Lia Bull-Kreg figure to spearhead the Tartan defense.

“Kaitlyn is the quarterback of the defensive half of the field; she does a wonderful job with the younger players helping them positionally,” said Bruvik.

“Keya is also working hard in the back. We have options for her to play in the midfield  or low back. She has really improved her stick work and game sense throughout the preseason. Lia and Adrianna return as talented defenders.”

At goalie, sophomore Audrey Blandford appears poised for a breakthrough campaign.

“Audrey is looking great, she attended some camps this summer; you can tell that she really wants to own that position and that starting role,” said Bruvik. “We are excited about the improvement she has made since last year.”

If Stuart can take care of the basics, it could end up being an exciting fall for the Tartans.

“The key is just to play really solid, good fundamental hockey,” said Bruvik.

“Some of these kids are very explosive. If we can work hard and play a 60-minute game and we are moving the ball and are able to finish, we should be OK and have a winning season. I think we are all on the same page in terms of where we see ourselves going as a team. The girls are willing to work hard and continue to learn. We have girls who want to continue to play at the next level and they are very competitive.”