October 19, 2022

Scrappy Stuart Field Hockey Battles to Last Second As it Falls 3-2 to Top-Seeded PHS in MCT Quarters

SUPER SAVER: Stuart Country Day School field hockey goalie Emily Harlan guards the cage last Saturday as Stuart played at Princeton High in a Mercer County Tournament quarterfinal contest. Sophomore Harlan made 13 saves in a losing cause as the eighth-seeded Tartans fell 3-2 to top-seeded and undefeated PHS. Harlan passed 100 career saves in the process. Last Monday, Stuart defeated Northern Burlington 6-0 in a regular season game to improve to 8-5. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

With the Stuart Country Day School field hockey team facing undefeated Princeton High last Saturday morning in a Mercer County Tournament quarterfinal contest, Missy Bruvik did some tinkering tactically.

“We knew we would have to add an extra defender back today,” said Stuart head coach Bruvik. “We did that and focused on trying to keep that ball out of the middle third of the field and work the sidelines. I think we were able to execute that pretty well against a very good team.”

For 30 minutes that strategy worked well as eighth-seeded Stuart battled top-seeded PHS to a 0-0 draw.

In the second half, though, the Tigers broke through with two straight goals in the third quarter. Stuart responded with a goal by Alex Mandzij to cut the PHS lead in half.

The Tigers took a 3-1 lead early in the fourth quarter but the Tartans kept fighting as senior star Emily Ix found the back of the cage with 47 seconds left in regulation. That tally turned out to be the final score of the contest as PHS held on for a 3-2 win and improved to 13-0.

“I am just proud of the way we were able to finish today and put the ball in,” said Bruvik. “We got our corner opportunities for sure. I just thought we played pretty relentlessly in good spurts that kept our momentum going. I feel like we gave a very good team a good battle.”

Sophomore goalie Emily Harlan had a very good game for Stuart, making 13 saves and stopping a penalty stroke as she passed the 100-save milestone in her career.

“Emily did a fabulous job, she has been getting better and better,” said Bruvik. “She is more confident. She is taking on harder teams and she has risen to the occasion. That stoke today was the first stroke ever against her and she showed the composure.”

Stuart showed its composure collectively as it battled PHS to the final second on Saturday.

“That is the beauty of these guys; to be down 2-0, if you keep playing with that intensity and don’t let down, you just say ‘we will get our chances again,’” said Bruvik.

“We do a lot of looking at the scoreboard in terms of the time. They have seen enough games in other tournaments or collegiately and it is just keep playing until the end.”

While the defeat ended postseason action for the Tartans as they had lost 4-1 to Morristown-Beard in the Prep B state quarters last Friday, Bruvik wanted her team to keep playing.

“I would to get some more games; they love being together,” said Bruvik, whose team topped Northern Burlington 6-0 last Monday in a regular season contest to improve to 8-5. “If we can keep them together for a couple of more games, that would be great. They played an awesome game today.”