October 28, 2020

Senior Star Martin Triggers Offense with Hat Trick, Powering Stuart Field Hockey to 4-1 Win Over PDS

GETTING AFTER IT: Stuart Country Day School field hockey player Catherine Martin, right, goes after the ball in recent action. Last Wednesday, senior star and co-captain Martin scored three goals to power Stuart to a 4-1 win over Princeton Day School. The Tartans, who fell 1-0 to South Hunterdon last Saturday to move 4-1-1, are next in action when they host Bordentown on November 2. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Catherine Martin and her teammates on the Stuart Country Day School field hockey team brought a special sense of urgency as they hosted Princeton Day School last Wednesday.

Having not defeated PDS in years and seeing their 2019 season end with a 1-0 loss to the Panthers in the state Prep B semifinals, the Tartans were primed to turn the tables on their neighbors across the Great Road.

“It has been so long since we beat them, it has been about seven years,” said senior forward and co-captain Martin.

“I remember four years ago when we just scored our first goal on them. We have improved so much. We were ready, we brought it all.”

Martin set the tone, scoring two goals in the first quarter as the Tartans jumped out to a 2-0 lead.

“I was so determined, I knew we had to score,” said Martin. “It did feel good. It is like a runner’s high; the game is good, everyone is playing well.”

Stuart kept playing well, pulling away to a 4-1 victory over the Panthers.

“There was great energy the whole game,” said Martin. “I remember one time in the second half where we were getting a little messy. We came together and started controlling the game again with our possession.”

Martin achieved a hat trick, slotting the ball into the goal with 8:52 left in the third quarter, moments after tumbling to the turf on a collision in the circle.

“I was a little bit woozy, I hit my head,” recalled Martin. “The ball was next to me so I shot it.”

Keeping their heads, the Stuart players used their possession game to hold off PDS in the fourth quarter and break their losing streak to the Panthers.

“It felt so good, we worked hard for it,” said Martin. “Our whole team put out all we could on the field. It is a nice win.”

In Martin’s view, the Tartans have been putting it together over the last two weeks.

“We are a very young team, we have a lot of freshmen,” said Martin.

“As we are progressing through the season, we are just learning to work together. It is so wonderful.”

As a battle-tested veteran, Martin is looking to positively influence the younger players.

“I am more competent, both in stick skills and in the way of leading the team and telling everyone where to go,” said Martin.

“I want to be there for my teammates always and I feel like I know what I am doing. It is so important to teach the younger teammates so they know how to progress forward for the next years.”

Stuart head coach Missy Bruvik sensed that her squad was making progress as it came into the PDS contest.

“The last couple of days, we have had some good practices,” said Bruvik.

“I think they are just playing well and they are playing together. It takes time when you don’t have as many games and that opportunity to work out what isn’t working and what is working out positionally, where people should be and how to work with your new teammates. It takes time.”

The Tartans produced some very good work in the first half against PDS, dominating play by controlling the ball.

“We had good momentum, we did a good job spreading the field, which is what we talked about,” said Bruvik.

“I thought the defense came up big, they challenged themselves to step up and go for the interceptions. I am just very proud of them as a whole.”

Bruvik was not surprised to see Martin produce a hat trick, given the senior’s persistence around goal.

“That is how she plays every day in practice, she had a beautiful goal on that second one,” said Bruvik.

“When she is in the circle, she keeps the ball on her stick and she is constantly looking for the opportunity to shoot. Their goalie did a good job knowing that she had to come out and play the ball. They were both working to get around and finish.”

The Tartans did a good job collectively of keeping their shape. “We have figured out how to balance our backs with our mids, everyone is learning how to play together,” said Bruvik, crediting sophomore forward Lily Harlan and junior midfielder Kaitlyn Magnani with making connections all over the field for the Tartans.

“The seniors have taken the lead, we said at halftime, we know they are going to come out strong in the second half.”

In Bruvik’s view, Stuart displayed a strong focus in the win over the Panthers.

“I am really happy with the way we played today, to know that we are going to play a good team and to be not just physically but mentally ready to play,” said Bruvik, whose team fell 1-0 to South Hunterdon last Saturday to move to 4-1-1 and is next in action when it hosts Bordentown on November 2.

Martin, for her part, is ready to make the most of the last few weeks of her final campaign.

“We know that our season can end any time so that is why we are playing every game like our last, especially the seniors,” said Martin.

“It is such a short season. We are really excited to finish off the season. We are really sad that it is about to end.”