September 12, 2018

With Mullen Leading the Way from Midfield, Stuart Field Hockey Rolls to 5-0 Win in Opener

LINING IT UP: Stuart Country Day School field hockey player Caroline Mullen, left, goes after the ball in a game last season. Last Wednesday, junior midfielder Mullen picked up two assists to help Stuart defeat Burlington City High 5-0 in its season opener. In upcoming action, the Tartans play at Princeton Day School on September 13 and at George School (Pa.) on September 17. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Caroline Mullen and her teammates on the Stuart Country Day School field hockey team were determined to start the season on a high note as they hosted Burlington City High last Wednesday in their opener.

“I think we wanted to come out with a lot of intensity,” said junior midfielder and co-captain Mullen.

“That was our goal, since it was our opening game and it was at home, we really wanted to win.”

The Tartans didn’t waste any time displaying that intensity, controlling possession from the opening whistle, tallying two goals in the first four minutes on the way to a 5-0 win.

“We were really working on our passes and making sure we are finding each other and communicating throughout the game,” said Mullen, who had two assists in the victory. “Even towards the end, our passes were just getting stronger.” 

In reflecting on her role, Mullen is looking to be a playmaker while picking her spots for shots.

“We have strong forwards and a strong freshman class that came in so it is hanging out at the top of the circle, trying to get some shots off here and there and looking to find the forward players,” said Mullen.

“They have a lot of speed and they are really dedicated players too; I think that has been a change from last year to this year. We have forwards we can rely on and we have a really strong midfield.”

Mullen is looking to be someone the freshmen can rely on in the midfield unit.

“It is two other freshmen, Kaitlyn [Magnani] and Anna [Gill], and me in the midfield,” added Mullen. “I am trying to be a leader with the midfield, working on how we use each other.”

Mullen has worked hard to make better use of her skills. “I played a lot during the summer; I joined a club team,” said Mullen. “We have a few other club players on the team so that is an improvement on last year.”

Stuart head coach Missy Bruvik likes the improvement she has seen from Mullen as a player and a leader.

“Caroline sees the field; she is the playmaker and she sets everybody up,” said Bruvik.

“Priscilla [Francois], Breasia [Williams], and her have been nominated as captains. I am excited for her as a player that her teammates recognize not only that she is skilled, but she is able to direct all over the field. She has all that knowledge coming into her junior year.”

Against Burlington City, Stuart was all over the field, dominating play as it built a 4-0 lead by halftime.

“We came out quick, which was good,” said Bruvik. “We put a lot of pressure on the goalie right away. It was good to finish early. I thought their goalie did a good job in that first half. We were getting the shots off and we were getting our shots off on our corners as well, trying to execute them.”

Sophomore Catherine Martin executed well in the circle, scoring two goals in the win.

“She was very timely.  Catherine has found a way to get her body in the right place at the right time,” said Bruvik, who also got goals from Gill, freshman Molly Shore, and senior Emma Shaw in the win. “When she is low on the ball, she is strong on the ball. She has quick stick.”

Senior star Francois provided some strong play, adding a beautiful assist on Martin’s second goal to augment her good work along the back line

“Priscilla has a whole new role because she played on the forward line last year and we have got her controlling the center backfield this year,” said Bruvik.

“She is one who said I will do whatever you need me to do. It was let’s just try here her in the back with her speed and her first and second step. It is about carrying about the ball out of the back.”

In Bruvik’s view, her team’s performance in the opener was a very good first step.

“We are still rotating a lot of kids through, looking for combinations,” said Bruvik, whose team was slated to host Pennington on September 11 before playing at Princeton Day School on September 13 and at the George School (Pa.) on September 17. “This is the perfect time for that because what we do now hopefully pays off down the road.”

Mullen, for her part, knows that the Tartans face a rough road as they take on rivals Pennington and PDS.

“We are going to try to focus more on the little things and refining our skills so we will be ready for them,” said Mullen.

“We didn’t get much of a test on the defense this game so we need to be working on that in practice to make sure that we are ready because that are going to come in with big shots.”