October 20, 2021

Making Switch to Field Hockey from Tennis, Ix Developing into an Offensive Threat for Stuart

QUICK LEARNER: Stuart Country Day School field hockey player Emily Ix dribbles the ball in a game earlier this season. Junior Ix, who took up field hockey this year after playing tennis the last two falls, has emerged as a scoring threat for Stuart. Last Wednesday, Ix tallied two goals to help the sixth-seeded Tartans top 11th-seeded WW/P-S 4-1 in the opening round of the Mercer County Tournament. Stuart, which fell 3-2 to Princeton Day School in the MCT quarters last Friday to move to 10-3-2, will continue postseason play when it hosts a state Prep B semifinal contest on October 22. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Emily Ix spent her first two falls at Stuart Country Day School playing tennis.

This year, however, junior Ix decided to make a change and joined the Stuart field hockey program.

“I love tennis and I really love team sports,” said Ix, who stars for the Stuart lacrosse team in the spring, having scored a team-high 37 goals in the 2021 campaign.

“A lot of my friends play field hockey and I love Miss Bruvik [field hockey head coach Missy Bruvik]. I got a lot out of tennis and I feel like a lot of my game in tennis translates to my game in field hockey so that has been really helpful.”

It hasn’t taken Ix long to develop a comfort level in her new sport.

“When I first started playing, the rules were a little different,” said Ix.

“My dribbling and stick skills have improved a lot. Lacrosse is my main sport probably and a lot of the same girls play lacrosse so I was able to fit right in. It has been great with the team.”

Last Wednesday, Ix displayed her newly-developed skills, scoring two goals to help sixth-seeded Stuart defeat WW/P-South 4-1 in the opening round of the Mercer County Tournament.

“Today was my first tournament game actually, which is really exciting,” said Ix.

“It has been a lot of buildup over the course of the season. We were really excited to compete and show how much we have improved since the start of the season. Our team bonds are really strong going into this game. I feel like a lot of the hard games that we have played over the season have helped coming up to this.”

Ix’s first goal came on a feed from classmate Lily Harlan as Stuart took a 2-0 lead five minutes into the contest.

“I saw that the right side of the cage was open and I just did a hard push,” said Ix.

“Lily is my best friend and we play other sports together and I feel like we have a lot of team chemistry. She always finds the open girl, her assists are really great.”

The Pirates rallied, scoring a goal midway through the second quarter to make it a 2-1 game at halftime.

“South is a very talented team so we were prepared for a tough game,” said Ix.

“I feel like coming into the second half we were really confident about our team and we knew that we were going to keep the momentum going.”

The Tartans regained the momentum, scoring two unanswered goals to pull away to the win.

Ix tallied the final goal of the day in the first minute of the fourth quarter, banging home a pass from Isabel Milley.

“I think the passing is the strongest point of our game,” said Ix.

“We were really confident in ourselves that we could pull through. Our offensive line works really well together. I think we know our strengths and our weaknesses.”

Stuart head coach Bruvik liked her team’s strong start against WW/P-South.

“We came out strong, I thought we moved the ball and controlled the ball well,” said Bruvik.

“We just kept it on our sticks and made the right passes at the right time and finished. It was a great start.”

Later in the contest, the Tartans showed some great resilience in overcoming the Pirates.

“West Windsor counter-attacked, it is tournament time and momentum is going to change and it was how do we counteract that,” said Bruvik.

“I am really pleased with the third and fourth quarters that we were able to put the ball in.”

Bruvik is very pleased to have Ix join her squad. “She put down her tennis racket and said she was going to try it and I thought this is awesome because I just know her natural abilities,” said Bruvik.

“She is so coachable, she asks great questions. She works so hard to be in the right position at the right time. She has been a finisher for us. She can run end line to end line so we were able to put her in the midfield and teach her as she is going. She is learning every day and keeps building on those skills. It has been great to watch and that is all a tribute to her and her work ethic.”

Stuart also got some good work from Milley and Harlan in the win as Milley tallied a goal and an assist and Harlan chipped in a goal and two assists.

“Isabel always has a good game, she is intense, said Bruvik. “She has the natural instincts, she is a natural athlete. Lily is firecracker up on attack. She is the spark that ignites our offensive end of the field but she also plays good defense. She brings that passion which I also think ignites everybody else. She brings out the best in everybody. They all can feel her passion and they want to do it together.”

While Stuart fell 3-2 on a last second goal to third-seeded Princeton Day School in the MCT quarters last Friday, the Tartans, now 10-3-2, are still in the hunt for the state Prep B title.

“I think as long as we continue to have this kind of resilience whether we are up or we are down and just keep playing to the end, that is what a tournament run is all about,” said Bruvik, whose team is seeded first in the Prep B tourney and will host a semifinal contest on October 22.

In the view of Ix, the Tartans will keep playing hard to the end. “I am really excited for the future of our team, we have a very young team,” said Ix.

“We definitely have a lot of mental toughness and I feel like we really want to win. Going in we are really excited to play some harder teams.”