Garden City's Bruno is all business

Garden City's Alexandra Bruno passes the ball against Garden City's Alexandra Bruno passes the ball against Sayville in the Long Island Class B field hockey championship. (Nov. 12, 2011) Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

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Perhaps the best compliment to be paid to Alexandra Bruno as a player is this: She's boring.

Very little flash, just a robotic precision with which the Garden City star goes about things. From the penetrating drives and long strikes from atop the circle, on down to postgame interviews.

"It gets better every time." That became her catchphrase, for two years, after Trojans postseason wins.

About the only thing more predictable than Bruno dropping that line was her putting forth a stellar performance, leading to a Garden City win, leading to her saying it.

With that clockwork consistency, the senior scored a Long Island-best 31 points and led the Trojans to a second straight state Class B final. It's those credentials -- along with a pile of accolades that includes an All-Region selection -- that make Bruno Newsday's 2011 field hockey player of the year.

Trojans coach Diane Chapman described Bruno as "a smart, dedicated kid." Tara Mahon said she's glad they're in the same graduating class "so I'll never know what it's like to play without her." Emma Bozek, an All-American and star of Lakeland, the team that denied Garden City in the state final, called Bruno "a phenomenal talent." Bruno's description of herself on the field: "I'm constantly thinking, analyzing the opponent and figuring out the best move."

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Behind the analysis and fundamentals, though, is a fierce competitor, one whose fire drove her to excel despite several injuries.

Last season, the postgame routine was three ice packs and lots of bandages. This year brought trips to physical therapy (sometimes three in a week) to treat a herniated disk in her back and high ankle sprain.

"I was in a lot of pain," said Bruno, who's also an All-American lacrosse player headed to Princeton. "But I always think you have to be there for your team; fight through the adversity."

Bruno was a reserve on Garden City's 2008 state title team, then started as a sophomore on a squad featuring All-Americans Mariah Pewarski and Eleni Andromidas. Bruno thought she'd "have trouble keeping up." She didn't.

Junior year, "We lost a lot of key players," Bruno said. "I had to step up." She led Nassau with 34 points.

"When we lose people, she realizes what she has to do to fill certain roles," Chapman said. This season, the team's need for scoring led to her shifting from midfielder to part-time forward.

"There's such a winning tradition here," Bruno said, alluding to the 17 consecutive county and seven straight L.I. titles. "Especially being a senior, there's pressure. You don't want your team to be the one that messed it up."

Senior year . . . Bruno scored twice in a 3-0 win in the county final. L.I. championship: the winning goal with 3:09 left in a 2-1 victory. State semifinal: the assist on Catherine McTiernan's overtime winner. Charlotte Castronovo's goal in the state final -- assisted by Bruno.

"She's determined," Chapman said, "always pushing herself to get to the next level."

Hmm . . . Guess you could say she gets better every time.

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