Despite Suffering Two Tight Defeats in Final Week, Stuart Field Hockey Enjoyed Positive Campaign
STICKING TOGETHER: Stuart Country Day School field hockey players Morgan John, left, and Catherine Martin celebrate after a goal in recent action. Seniors John and Martin helped set a positive tone for Stuart as it posted a 5-3-1 record this fall. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
Although the Stuart Country Day School field hockey team suffered a pair of one-goal defeats in its last two games of the season, Missy Bruvik was proud of how her players competed to the end.
“We played really hard in both games, we never quit,” said Stuart head coach Bruvik, whose squad fell 2-1 to Bordentown on November 2 and 1-0 to Princeton Day School two days later to end the season at 5-3-1.
“It would have been nice to win one of those last two games. I know the kids felt they gave their best effort.”
In reflecting in the stretch run, Bruvik acknowledged that Stuart struggled to finish in the circle.
“We didn’t score a lot of goals in general all year; we had a lot of 1-0 games,” said Bruvik.
“I also give a lot of credit to the keepers, I could tell that they were getting better too as the season went on. On our corners, we would get them off. We didn’t score off of rebounds, we practiced that.”
While Bruvik may have hoped for better results in the final week of the season, the positives of getting to play nine games in the face of COVID-19 protocols and restrictions is far more meaningful than a win-loss record.
“I think all of the coaches talked about just how grateful we were to be out there,” said Bruvik.
“We also said how well balanced they are and that everybody was getting better. The kids were getting better because they were so pumped up to be out there.”
The players were pumped on a daily basis, making the most of practices as well as games.
“Attendance was great at practice, credit to parents who would bring their kids to practice because that is not an easy thing to do when everyone is working,” said Bruvik.
“They got their kids there every day so it was all good. There is nothing you can say that can be negative about the season. We were sitting here in November and we were still playing.”
The Tartans did play well when it came to their possession game.
“We did a good job of keeping the ball in the offensive end for most of the games,” said Bruvik.“We had more scoring opportunities this year than we did last year.”
One of Stuart’s best offensive games came in a 4-1 victory over PDS on October 21.
“In that win, we just clicked,” recalled Bruvik. “We were able to finish in the circle and again the more opportunities you have up there, the more you can score.”
The team’s six seniors finished their careers on a high note. “We had a great senior group; they kept the tone about the appreciation of the whole season and
appreciating each other,” said Bruvik, whose Class of 2021 includes Molly Lagay, Janiah Adams, Morgan John, Catherine Martin, Lia Bull-Krieg, and Amaris Frink.
“It was work as hard as you can and let’s just have fun doing it. They really tried to stay united; that was their whole aim from the first day that we were allowed to practice.”
Bruvik was happy to give her younger players a lot of work. “I am pleased that we could play the underclassmen; I am so glad that most of the schools that we played said let’s run a JV game,” said Bruvik.
“We had 22 players in total. We were able to rotate and float kids and get that second game in. I think that was huge to their development as a team with the younger kids playing together but also getting that experience.”
With such standout returners as juniors Keya Patel, Kaitlyn Magnani, and Audrey Blandford, sophomore Lily Harlin, and freshmen Elise Prince and Isabel Milley, Bruvik believes that experience will pay dividends next fall.
“I think these underclassmen are going to make great contributions next year,” said Bruvik.
“The juniors that are moving up have been playing for three years. We are going to have spots that we are going to have to replace with some key players at key spots on the field. I think they are excited about next year.”