by Ken Brown
HARDWICK – A shorthanded Hazen Union girls’ soccer team ran out of gas late last weekend as they dropped their season opener to Oxbow at Hudson Fields.
Sophomore Tessa Luther scored a pair of first half goals to give Hazen Union an early lead, but Oxbow scored three unanswered the rest of the way to outlast the Lady Cats 3-2 in a Saturday afternoon match. Luther found the back of the net for Hazen Union thirteen minutes into the match on a breakaway and finished a beautiful through ball from Caitlyn Davison twelve minutes later to make it 2-0. Brianna O’Conner pulled Oxbow within a goal with seven minutes remaining in the first half when the Hazen Union defense couldn’t clear a corner kick from the penalty box.
“Both teams are pushing through tactical changes for the coming season after adjusting to the losses of seniors, but Tessa did a nice job of capitalizing on our first real opportunity,” said head coach Harry Besett. “Caitlyn and Tessa showed great physicality and composure in our second goal and it gave us a huge boost, but without any substitutions for this match we knew we were in for a marathon and we needed to take every opportunity to conserve energy,” added Besett.
Lillian Degoosh found the equalizer for the Lady Olympians with twenty minutes left in regulation and scored the game-winner late in regulation to complete the comeback. Freshman Madeline Kaiser made 14 saves for Hazen Union in her varsity debut. Oxbow made 10 stops on the day in the win as they improved to 1-0 on the season.
“The girls did a nice job of staying organized midway through the second half, but fatigue slowly set in. Our strikers didn’t have that extra step to chase down balls late and our defense started to wear down physically and mentally. Oxbow’s legs were fresher and they did a nice job of taking advantage of a deep bench. The girls put up a valiant effort without substitutions and we have a lot to build on going into our second match where we hope to have three players off the bench to lean on,” said Besett.
The Lady Cats traveled to Blue Mountain on Tuesday and will stay on the road for match-up against BFA-Fairfax on Saturday.