For the Stuart Country Day lacrosse team, its season-ending 16-5 win over Nottingham reflected how much the team has grown over the spring.
“It was a great way to end the season,” said Stuart first-year head coach Caitlin Grant.
“The team played well together defensively. They really came together, like we have been working on.”
Senior star Ani Hallowell ended her career in style, scoring six goals to help lift Stuart to a 4-11 final record.
“Ani was the heart and soul of the team,” asserted Grant of Hallowell, who is headed to Holy Cross.
“She scored goals. She helped all over the field. She had 113 goals in her career with around 70 this year.”
The Tartans saw young players step up all over the field with freshman goalie Harlyn Bell, freshman attacker Nneka Onuwugha, and junior attacker Alaina Ungarini turning heads.
“Bell was a brand new goalie and I think she was one of the best we saw in the area,” said Grant.
“She likes the responsibility; she sets a high standard for herself and gets upset when she doesn’t hit her goals. Nneka Onuwagha had never even touched a stick before this year and she ended up with four or five goals. Alaina was kind of timid at first. Last year was the first time she had played. She took it upon herself to score more and she did.”
Sophomore Amy Hallowell figures to pick up some of the scoring load after the graduation of older sister Ani.
“Amy Hallowell was in her sister’s shadow at the beginning; she let Ani take over,” said Grant.
“I know it is tough; I played with my older sister in high school. Amy is a great player. She has around 50 goals so she is in line to get 100. She is going to step up more without Ani there.”
Grant believes that offensive balance will be a key to the program’s continued progress.
“I want them to learn that they can really work together and not rely on one player,” said Grant. “Each of them can take the ball to the goal.”
For Grant, getting the chance to work with the Tartan program helped her become a better teacher of the game.
“It is different from Notre Dame High where I played,” said Grant, who went on to play college lax at The College of New Jersey.
“We had so many players that we could pick and choose and work on plays and more intricate things right away. With Stuart, there are a lot of new players. We have to work on throwing and catching and the basics; we had to teach some of them the rules.”
But while the program may not be strong in numbers, it boasts a special unity.
“It is such a tight little group, you know everyone right away,” said Grant. “We had only 17 or so players. They work well together. Everyone has to play.”
In order to enjoy more success in the future, the Stuart players can’t wait until next spring to improve.
“We have a summer camp and I would like them to come to that; I also have pointed them in the direction of summer clinics and camps,” said Grant.
“I want to talk to next year’s captains [Amy Hallowell and Isabel Soto] about having the team play with each other in the offseason so they know the ins and outs of their game and we can start working on plays right away.”