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(Photo by Bill Allen/NJ SportAction)

MAKING HAY: Stuart junior Eleanor Hayes-Larson, right, controls the ball in a recent scrimmage. Hayes-Larson will be a pivotal performer in the midfield for the Tartans, who open their 2005 season by hosting Sayreville on September 9 and then playing at South Hunterdon on September 12.
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Coming Off Record-Breaking 2004 Season, Stuart Field Hockey Primed for More Success

By Bill Alden

The Stuart Country Day field hockey team put together a storybook campaign last fall, breaking the program record for wins as it went 17-3 and won the the state Prep B title and finished second in the Mercer County Tournament (MCT) along the way. With six seniors graduating off that stellar squad, the ten returning veterans have their sights set on the future as they are poised to write the next chapter of success for the powerful program which has been a perennial state prep title contender.

Longtime Stuart head coach Missy Bruvik is enjoying the process working with the new dynamic around her squad.

"It feels like a completely new group, even with the 10 returning players," asserted Bruvik, who has led Stuart to 10 state Prep titles in her previous 19 years guiding the Tartans. "The veterans are looking at the younger players and they're really excited about the mix."

Bruvik, though, is more than excited to have sensational senior goalie Christa Goeke back in the mix. "She really dedicated herself to goaltending this spring," said Bruvik of her skilled goalie who posted 10 shutouts, had a goals against average of just over 0.30 a game, and saved more than 90 percent of the shots that came her way during the 2004 regular season.

"She did one-on-one training with a goalie coach. She went to numerous camps over the summer, she's looking to play at the D-I level in college. She also played in an adult league in New York. She has great quickness and an ability to read shooters."

Stuart has some good shooters on its side in juniors Kelly Bruvik, Megan Fitzpatrick, and Gabriella Rich and standout freshman Jaclyn Gaudioso Radvany, who played in the Junior Olympics over the summer.

"They are all good ballcarriers," said Bruvik, referring to her quartet of forwards. "We hope to spend a lot of time on attack. We need to move the ball well around the circle."

Bruvik believes she will get some good movement through the midfield with seniors Alice Murnen and Katie Baker together with junior Eleanor Hayes-Larson. "Alice has great skills; she is so much more confident this season," asserted Bruvik. "Eleanor and Katie both have a good field sense and are good runners."

Across the backline, Stuart faces the challenge of replacing departed stars Ami Patel and Sarah Williams. Bruvik believes that seniors Mary Jane Sweetland and Margaret Henry are up to the task.

"Mary Jane and Margaret provide good senior leadership," said Bruvik, who also plans to use junior Elizabeth Colicchio and sophomores Jenae Harrington and Jenna Braymiller in her defensive set-up. "They are good leaders with good heads. They went through a lot last fall."

Bruvik believes her club can do a lot this fall. "We want to get to the MCT final again and get it done this time," maintained Bruvik, whose club starts its 2005 season by hosting Sayreville on September 9 and then playing at South Hunterdon on September 12.

"We need to focus on taking the steps to get to that level. We can't get ahead of ourselves. We need to be good on transition. If we lose the ball, we have to keep our heads in the game. Everybody needs to keep moving off the ball."

If the Tartans follow Bruvik's blueprint, they should move into title contention once again.


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