The Day's All-Area Field Hockey Player of the Year: Stonington's Miranda Arruda
Stonington High School field hockey coach Jenna Tucchio has seen Miranda Arruda play defense so feverishly that Tucchio had to remind her to play offense.
Likewise, softball coach Ann-Marie Houle talks about the time Arruda homered for the Bears this spring … and made it all the way to second base before the ever ball landed.
And to think, when Arruda began her high school career, she thought that notoriety only belonged to juniors and seniors. It is Arruda’s effort, perhaps, which set her on a different career path at Stonington: Varsity in three sports by the end of her freshman year, starting as a sophomore, starring as a junior.
“Definitely, my freshman year I was really nervous,” Arruda said recently. “But I thought, I’ve been playing (softball and basketball) since I was 4 or 5, I might as well just put forth what I’ve played the past years. … Playing in the (Senior League Softball) World Series, it was really good seeing teams from Arizona, from the Netherlands; we used to talk about how we could step it up when we got to high school.”
This season, Arruda finished with 24 goals and four assists to help lift the Stonington field hockey team (17-4) to its ninth straight Eastern Connecticut Conference title and a berth in the semifinals of the Class S state tournament for the second consecutive season. Arruda was truly the Bears’ center forward, but Tucchio labeled it as a center midfield position because she needed the junior on defense, too.
The dynamic Arruda, who upped her goal total from five a year ago, was named The Day’s 2017 All-Area Field Hockey Player of the Year.
“She’s a really optimistic kid. She sees the silver lining in everything,” Tucchio said. “If the weather’s bad, she’ll say, ‘It could be colder.’ Or, ‘We love the rain.’ She’s always got that optimistic view. ‘I need to do this better.’ ‘We need to work on this.’ She doesn’t really see limits. She believes if you work hard, you can do things. She has that confidence in herself and she brings it to her teammates.”
Arruda said she gets her competitive nature from her dad, Ray, who to this day gets excited to bat cleanup in his own softball league.
“Even for, like, rec basketball he’s been my coach,” Arruda said. “He’ll tell me what I did wrong. If I take a shot, sometimes he’ll say, ‘That wasn’t a shot. You just chucked it up there.’ I never want to hear my dad correct me on something. … I’m competitive in my own head, like mental toughness, I guess. I’m very quiet. I try to challenge myself.”
Arruda began playing field hockey as a freshman to follow along with her sister, Brooke, who was a senior at the time and who went on to play softball at Keene State College in New Hampshire.
Miranda made it to the varsity early in her freshman field hockey season, but didn’t quite have the aptitude for it, she said, until this summer. It was then she realized that Margit Burgess, the Bears’ co-leading scorer had graduated and the team was going to need someone to join senior forward Trinity Lennon in the scoring column.
“This year, I like it a lot now. Well, it’s like a rotation,” Arruda said. “Being in the basketball season, I love basketball, I’m looking forward to softball and I’m dreading field hockey.
“But over the summer, I was focused on that Margit left and I would have to be the one to step up. I tried to do research on how to make your stick stills better, how to make your passing more accurate. … The first couple weeks (of the season) are always rough because we have long practices and we’re tired. But it started off a lot better than I thought it would have."
Arruda is fast; she scored 41 runs during the softball season and led many of the field hockey team’s fast breaks. She’s smart, although she admits that Advanced Placement Chemistry is causing her anxiety. And, being left-handed, Arruda has a seemingly effortless backhand that has become a part of her repertoire.
Arruda scored twice during Stonington’s 5-2 key, ECC victory over East Lyme on Oct. 2, and had four goals in an 8-0 win over Lewis Mills in the quarterfinals of the Class S tournament.
“Miranda is a self-starter,” Tucchio said. “She’s usually one step ahead of me. She has the game breakdown in her head and her questions ready. And she’s going to give everything she has. She was going to be, like, crazy defender and play defense all over the place until I told her, ‘You can go on attack.’
“She just has that drive. There’s no middle ground with her. She’s going to go all out until you have nothing left. She’s got a few teammates like that, too.”
Stonington was knocked out of the state tournament by eventual champion North Branford 2-0 in the semifinals.
Now, Arruda turns to basketball, where she’s a starting guard and one of the Bears’ top defenders. In softball, she batted .368 last season with 10 home runs and 22 RBI to go with an exceptional throwing arm, earning first team All-ECC and All-Area honors.`
Arruda wishes to go into the field of emergency medicine. At Stonington, she is involved with DECA, a club which revolves around marketing and business. She is in the Varsity Club, represented Stonington as a member of its Class Act sportsmanship delegation and is in the Spanish Honor Society.
“I was surprised by (being promoted to the varsity field hockey team as a freshman). Most coaches aren’t going to pull you up,” Arruda said. “Then I was like, ‘Oh, gosh, I have to do something now.'
“I did look up to my sister. I looked up to (all-time leading scorer) Molly Crowley; I didn’t know her, but I look up to her. Even (Lennon), she’s only a year older than me, but she told me a lot more than I could ever imagine. … I could see a good season coming. I knew coach Jenna would whip us into shape, but I did not expect us to make it to the semifinals.”
The Day's 2017 All-Area Field Hockey Team
Player of the Year — Miranda Arruda (Stonington)
Forward — Caroline Healy (East Lyme), Trinity Lennon (Stonington), Zoe Pearse (Fitch/Ledyard), Cassidy Susi (Waterford)
Midfield — Erin Craig (Stonington), Katie Durkee (East Lyme), Abby Flakus (Stonington)
Defense — Colette Dreher (Stonington), Maya Rose (East Lyme), Alyson Sanford (Waterford)
Goalie — Erin Ritter (Fitch/Ledyard)
Utility — Hannah Pratt (Stonington)
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