This season was going to be one for the record books.
One of the best players in the history of the second most successful team at Keene State was set to break two of the most important records. Senior forward, Nina Bruno was on pace to break the all time mark for goals scored in a career and points in a career for the field hockey team. Then, a global pandemic messed everything up.
Let’s rewind back to 2017.
The best player in the history of the field hockey program had just finished up her career. Sami Smith had just crushed the record for overall points, and goals for a career. Smith finished her career with 20 more goals than the previous record holder, and 61 more points than that previous record holder. In their first game of the 2017 season without the best player in the program’s history, a first-year would go on to score two goals in her first game, and Bruno wouldn’t look back.
Field hockey head coach Amy Watson, who has been at the helm of the field hockey program for both Bruno’s and Smith’s career, didn’t think that Bruno would go on to have the success she has been having.
“I had a pretty good idea she was going to be a four year player, and an impact player, but she has really far exceeded my expectations for sure,” said Watson. She exceeded many people’s expectations. Bruno went on to score 21 more times her freshman year, more than even Smith scored in her first season.
Senior forward and Bruno’s best friend Kayla Klein said that from the beginning, she had the motivation to be an impact player on the team. “Coming in as a freshman her motivation was ‘I’m going to play, I’m not going to sit on the bench my freshman year, I’m here to help my team win,’ so that carried on, and she has gotten better and better as the years have gone on,” said Klein. She definitely got better and better as the years have gone on.
In her sophomore season, her best of her career, she scored 32 goals and had 74 points on the season. In her junior year she scored another 21 times and notched 50 points, giving her 177 goals, and 76 points in her career to that point. All she needed was 15 more points to break the points record, but 37 goals to break the scoring record.
Bruno was ready to have her best season yet and put her name on the top of the record books.
“Junior year was the year I actually realized I could break the records if I showed the hard work, passion, and dedication that I did in my previous three years. I was nothing but eager to leave Keene State College knowing I have left my mark on a program that has done so much for me,” said Bruno, but that all came to a crashing halt in March when COVID-19 seemingly shut down the whole world. The longer and longer the pandemic lasted the less and less hope there was for a senior season to be played for Bruno.
“At first, I really wasn’t expecting COVID to completely wipe my senior season away… I think once it got to June and July, my high hopes and expectations of the season started to fade,” said Bruno. Finally, in July, it was announced that the Little East Conference (LEC) would not be holding a fall season and, just like that, Bruno’s hopes of breaking the records were dashed.
“Personally, I was very upset. My fellow seniors and I have worked extremely hard and overcome many things in the past three years; to not be able to have one unreal, final season (with an LEC championship title of course), would have been amazing,” said Bruno. Coach Watson feels for her star player not getting the chance to break the records.
“I feel bad, I really do… I would have loved Nina to have a crack at it. Even if Nina didn’t surpass it, it would have been nice for her to have a crack at it, because there is always going to be that what if,” said Watson.
Even though there are no real games, the field hockey team, along with the other fall sports teams, have been playing intrasquad scrimmages and this has brought Bruno at least a little bit of joy.
“I do enjoy being able to practice with my teammates and have the weekly intrasquad scrimmages. While it being my last season, at this point, any chance that I get to play on that turf, be with my teammates and coaching staff, I’m going to take it,” said Bruno.
At this moment though, there is a chance the LEC does play sports in the spring, so there is still hope Bruno might be able to go on to break Sami Smith’s records. Until then though, just like everything in the world right now, who knows.
Tyler daRosa can be contacted at