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(Photo by Bill Allen/NJ SportAction)

GOAL-ORIENTED: Stuart Country Day sophomore lacrosse star Kelly Bruvik races down the field on her way to a four-goal performance last Thursday in Stuart's 8-7 win over Princeton High. Bruvik has a team-high 11 goals for the Tartans, who are 1-3 on the season.

Stuart Lacrosse Shows Patience In Edging PHS 8-7 to Get 1st Win

By Bill Alden

Unlike many high school lacrosse teams in the area, the Stuart Country Day squad didn't get the chance to hone its skills by a preseason trip to Florida or several scrimmages.

Instead, the Tartans started their regular season earlier this month in a rush to get up to speed. Trying to do too much at once, Stuart fell 8-4 to Notre Dame in its season-opener and then squandered an early lead in losing to Pennington 9-8 last Wednesday.

The Tartans hit their field last Thursday against Princeton High looking to take things a little slower. Utilizing a deliberate offensive approach, Stuart jumped out to a 5-2 halftime lead and then used its ball-control tactics to hold off a PHS rally and earn an 8-7 win.

In reflecting on the win, Kelly Bruvik, who scored four goals for the Tartans, acknowledged that the team learned a valuable lesson from the loss to Pennington.

"Yesterday against Pennington, we got off to a 3-0 lead and then we lost it from there," explained Bruvik.

"We were trying to run a lot more plays today, yesterday we definitely rushed things. There were too many breakaways, we weren't slowing things down and we got tired."

As a key figure in the center of Stuart's attack, the sophomore Bruvik took it upon herself to help the team show some patience.

"I usually set up the plays so I try to slow it down," said Bruvik, who had a team-high 40 goals last spring in her freshman season.

"I tried to use both hands today to get openings in one versus one situations. My teammates helped me out by clearing and picking."

Stuart head coach Sara Wagner acknowledged that patience was a key part of her game plan. "We tried to go to goal harder today yet I wanted to hold the ball as well," said Wagner. "We had to be more patient, we had no patience yesterday. Our first half was fantastic, that was good to see."

It is also good for Wagner to see the ball on Bruvik's stick. "Kelly's role last year was to score goals and she accepts that role well," asserted Wagner, who is in her second year guiding the Tartans after a long tenure coaching Hopewell Valley.

"She's not one that needs the ball but she is willing to have it in tight situations. She's good at directing people and she has a great stick on defense. She's a tough competitor."

In Wagner's view, she has plenty of tough competitors through her lineup. "Margaret Henry played really well," said Wagner, who got a goal apiece from Henry, Mary Jane Sweetland, Megan Fitzpatrick, and Elizabeth Van Itallie.

"I moved her from defense to attack this year and she's handled that really well. Mary Jane, Sarah Williams and Margaret have all come in and made offensive contributions. Liz Colicchio had a great defensive game. Taylor Blazewski ran the ball up the field well."

Wagner is hoping the win over PHS will get her team on a good run. "I think we all had the same goal in mind of just trying to get it together," said Wagner, recalling that her team caught fire last spring after an early season win over the Little Tigers.

"They worked hard today. They need to get used to their roles and to each other. I think we can take today and keep improving."

While Stuart didn't immediately build on the win over PHS as it fell 12-5 to high-scoring Hun last Saturday, the Tartans will have a chance to get on the winning track as they play at George School on April 13, host Ranney on April 14, and then travel to Lawrenceville on April 19.

Bruvik, for her part, believes that Stuart just needs to stick to the basics in order to get rolling. "We need to work on getting back on defense," said Bruvik, who fired in three goals in the loss to Hun. "We need to get in shape and play together again."

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