June 13, 2017

Stuart Lacrosse Battled Through Adversity, Laying Groundwork for Promising Future

GRACE UNDER PRESSURE: Stuart Country Day School lacrosse player Grace Sheppard, right, heads upfield during a game this spring. Sophomore Sheppard’s production in the midfield helped Stuart post a 6-10 record this season. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Missy Bruvik felt good about her Stuart Country Day lacrosse team before it even started regular season play.

“I think the kids felt much more prepared this year going into the season, having had that opportunity to go to Florida,” said Stuart head coach Bruvik, referring to the squad’s preseason trip.

“They felt it was much more a team effort this year in terms of camaraderie and touches on the ball. When you play lacrosse that is a good thing. You want to get everyone involved, feeling that they see ball and they are ready when their time comes.” 

Facing some adversity down the stretch as Stuart got hit with a string of injuries right before postseason play, a number of players got to see action. The Tartans fell 16-10 to Trinity Hall in the opening round of the state Prep B tourney and lost 16-8 to Hightstown in a first-round contest in the Mercer County Tournament.

“We were down three starters and I think at one point, we were down four,” said Bruvik, whose team topped Hamilton 17-9 in a MCT consolation game on May 6 before dropping its last four games to end the spring at 6-10.

“A game is a game and it gave other kids opportunities to step up and I just thought the kids because of how hard they worked all season, they continued to battle. We had a tough schedule.”

In Bruvik’s view, the squad’s unity helped it hold things together to the end.

“This early chemistry was really important to them, the numbers were up,” said Bruvik.

“I think made a difference in their whole mental attitude in terms of taking the field every time we played.”

Bruvik credited her core of seniors with setting a positive tone.

“It was a great senior group; Izy Engel, Claire Landers, and Caitlyn Delaney were the captains and they were great,” said Bruvik.

“They know each other well on and off the field. We had four other seniors (Rachel Asir, Alexxa Newman, Emily Rounds, and Jess D’Amico), a couple who had not played and other girls who came back out so that was a bonus. Any time you can have seniors leading the way, regardless of where they feel they are in terms of their game, there is that mentality and maturity that they bring; kids with a little more experience.”

The experience that Stuart’s younger players got this year bodes well for the future.

“There is excitement for next year, Ali Hannah is back so we have a finisher,” said Bruvik of the junior star who scored 80 goals this spring.

“We have Elle Wigder and Grace Sheppard in the midfield. We have some younger kids on defense in Maria McBride and Breasia Williams. I think we have a really nice sophomore class with players like Emma Shaw. We have got a couple of freshmen who are playing Ultimate and PGLax. These are kids that will see the field as sophomore and juniors all the time next year.”