by Ken Brown
HARDWICK — The Hazen Union girls’ soccer team struggled through a development year in 2021, winning only one match, but head coach Harry Besett didn’t lose a single player to graduation and returns a young and talented core that now has varsity experience under their belt.
Last fall was a challenge for Besett and the Lady Cats after losing the core of their 2020 team that made it to the Division IV state title match to graduation. His young squad did start to play their best soccer late in the season, recording a win and a tie, but their season came to an end in the first round of the playoffs at Mount Saint Joseph’s Academy. He has fifteen strong practicing on the pitch so far on Hudson Fields and will have four seniors on the team in Lily Castle, Alexis Christensen, Maverick Murphy, and Gabriela Stanciu.
“We were an extremely young team last season without a senior on the squad and there were skills we needed to develop as a team throughout the year. We have a decent number practicing so far and hopefully we can recruit a couple more as school starts, but so far the girls look further ahead than I expected,” said Besett.
The Lady Cats should get a boost on offense with the return of juniors Caitlyn Davison and Tessa Luther in the middle of the field. Besett will also return a core of freshmen who logged varsity time as just eighth graders, led by Julia desGroseilliers and Isabelle Gouin. Madeline Kaiser returns to goal after a full varsity season under her belt and freshman Ella Renaud could see time in net as well.
“Kaitlyn is a great athlete and we’ll be able to use her skills in multiple ways on the field and Tessa has really grown into a strong midfielder. We had a lot of soccer skills to develop last season, but so far this fall the girls have picked up right where they left off and it has allowed us to apply more match tactics into practice. This group works hard, is extremely coachable, and they attack practice with a positive attitude. We have one more scrimmage this week to measure where we are at and we’re excited to get the season started,” said Besett.
Hazen Union is scheduled to open the season on the road at Oxbow on Saturday and will host their home opener next Tuesday against Blue Mountain.