The Day's All-Area Field Hockey Player of the Year: Stonington's Miranda Arruda

Stonington High School senior Miranda Arruda was named The Day's 2018 All-Area Field Hockey Player of the Year. Arruda, a Class S all-state selection at forward, finished the season with 27 goals and nine assists as the Bears went 17-2-2 with their 10th straight Eastern Connecticut Conference regular-season title. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
Stonington High School senior Miranda Arruda was named The Day's 2018 All-Area Field Hockey Player of the Year. Arruda, a Class S all-state selection at forward, finished the season with 27 goals and nine assists as the Bears went 17-2-2 with their 10th straight Eastern Connecticut Conference regular-season title. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)

She identifies mostly as a softball player who picked up field hockey perhaps as a means to occupy herself during autumn. And Miranda Arruda really has no idea how she got so good at the most successful sport at Stonington High School.

“Field hockey?” she said recently with a wry grin. “Well everyone says I’m better at field hockey than softball. I always thought I was better at softball. I think maybe people here just watch field hockey more. We’ve won state championships in it. No one really comes to softball games because it’s watching people stand around until something happens.

“I really couldn’t tell you how I got good at it. For example, schoolwork comes naturally to some people. Art is natural for some people. I guess combining the skills I had for basketball and softball, field hockey was like putting pieces together. They fit. I only started playing field hockey my freshman year.”

Arruda, The Day’s 2018 All-Area Field Hockey Player of the Year, is the busiest bear among all the Bears, a three-sport athlete who excels in the endeavor at which she plays the least. She’s into basketball season now and softball in the spring. Not much time to rest. About that …

“I’ve found that less sleep is the biggest thing. There’s sleep, school and sports. And I have to give up sleep the majority of the time,” Arruda said. “I’m usually doing homework till about 1 a.m. and up at 6.”

Arruda, who led the Bears (17-2-2) to their 10th straight Eastern Connecticut Conference regular-season title and a berth in the Class S state semifinals, was a first team all-state selection at forward. She finished with 27 goals and nine assists, giving her 60 goals and 20 assists in her career, the third-highest all-time goal total in program history.

The two-time All-Area Player of the Year, Arruda provides more than anecdotal evidence of the power of women in coaching. She is the byproduct of what strong women can accomplish. She plays field hockey for Jenna Tucchio, basketball for Paulla Solar and softball for Ann-Marie Houle, gleaning the best qualities of all three.

“From coach Jenna, I’ve learned the value of hard work,” Arruda said. “She knows that we don’t always have the strongest players in each spot on the field, but gets us believing that if we all work hard in practice and in games, it’ll make us a better team.

“Coach Solar always talks about how she doesn’t want us to act like boys, but she wants us to be tough like boys. It’s funny because I’ll watch games and think ‘I can’t believe he’s pouting right now.’ Or we see boys talking back to refs and think, ‘coach Solar would have us running for that right now.’ We really hate that. So from her, I’ve learned discipline.

“And from Ann-Marie, to always make sure you have fun. We have a serious program, but it’s also high school. We’re not supposed to take everything to heart. She has a three-second rule. If we mess up, we have three seconds to get over it. Then you’re fine.”

Who knows if Arruda ever coaches one day? Clearly she’s been taught well. And understands the value in the gender of the teachers.

“It’s great to see women being successful,” she said. “We’ve always had inequality. It’s getting better. But it’s really exciting to see females leading programs. I’ve never had a male coach except for my travel teams. I prefer a female coach because they understand when things are happening and if you have emotions. They don’t necessarily suppress them like the men do. I’ve had my dad as a coach. He’s a really good coach. But I hate it. I don’t like being told by men what do to.”

m.dimauro@theday.com

Stonington's dynamic senior forward, Miranda Arruda, left, scored the game-winning goal in overtime Oct. 25 to give the Bears the ECC regular-season title over East Lyme. A three-sport athlete at Stonington, Arruda finished her career with 60 goals and 20 assists, making her the third-leading goal scorer in program history. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
Stonington's dynamic senior forward, Miranda Arruda, left, scored the game-winning goal in overtime Oct. 25 to give the Bears the ECC regular-season title over East Lyme. A three-sport athlete at Stonington, Arruda finished her career with 60 goals and 20 assists, making her the third-leading goal scorer in program history. (Dana Jensen/The Day)

The Day's 2018 All-Area Field Hockey Team

Player of the Year — Miranda Arruda (Stonington)

Forward — Kristen Healy (East Lyme), Zoe Pearse (Fitch), Cassidy Susi (Waterford)

Midfield — Julia Bates (East Lyme), Maddy Cassell (Stonington), Katie Durkee (East Lyme)

Defense — Colette Dreher (Stonington), Jillian Holland (Stonington), Allyssa McIlquham (Fitch), Alyson Sanford (Waterford)

Goalie — Lydia Swan (East Lyme)

Utility — Casey Boumenot (Stonington)

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