by Ken Brown
HARDWICK – The Hazen Union boys’ soccer team will have a new head coach in Allison Paradee and a new home in the Capital Division this fall as they kick off their 2021 season this week.
The Wildcats were 4-4 last season and fell to Mill River in the first round of the Division III playoffs. Paradee replaces Talan Bryant and in doing so became the first female head coach of a varsity boys’ program in school history.
“I’ve been a teacher at Hazen for eight years, so I’ve known a lot of these kids since they were in junior high. I’ve thought about getting involved in the athletic program here the past few years, but I never quite had the time. When the position opened up this summer, the timing was right,and I felt seasoned enough here at the school to take on the challenge. I wasn’t aware at the time that I was the first female head coach of a varsity boys’ program here at the school, but it is always kind of cool to be the first one at something. These kids are amazing athletes and they’ve received me well so far. I’m excited for the opportunity and I feel lucky to be their coach,” said Paradee.
Paradee’s squad lost four seniors to graduation but returns a talented core that includes team captains Reed Kehler and Tyson Davison, along with last season’s leading goal scorer, Jadon Baker. Lincoln and Gabe Michaud also return to anchor the backfield and three-sport star Tyler Rivard replaces Ethan Shopland in net.
“Jadon is an amazing offensive player and I think we’ll have plenty of support up front around him this year with Reed, Tyson, and Cody Trudeau, who works harder than anybody. Lincoln is a powerful sweeper and Gabe is so versatile that we can put him anywhere back there. Tyler has shown great presence in goal using his size and athleticism. He has no fear and has been a machine so far in practice and scrimmages. We’ve been focusing on conditioning as well as being more tactical. I want them to play with their heads more, instead of just relying on their raw athleticism. As we work daily on improving our endurance, sportsmanship, and basic fundamentals, eventually we can mold into the team that we want to become,” said Paradee.
The Wildcats leave the Mountain League behind this fall and will enter the rugged Capital Division. It is filled with Division II and III powerhouses but, despite their final regular season record, it should leave them battle-tested for the Division III tournament at the end of the season.
“We definitely have a challenging schedule in front of us, but we need to focus on improving every practice and every game. If the boys continue to work hard on the little things and remember to have fun, we’ll eventually come together as a team and they can look back on the season and feel proud themselves for what they’ve accomplished,” added Paradee.
Hazen Union opens up the season at home this Wednesday with their only non-league match of the season against BFA-Fairfax at Hudson Fields.