Wildcats Will Lean on Stingy Defense this Fall

by Ken Brown

HARDWICK – Head coach Allison Paradee and her Hazen Union boys’ soccer team will have some holes to fill due to injury and graduation losses, but will trot out an experienced defensive unit this fall that should keep them in several matches in their second season in the highly competitive Capital League.

Paradee had a tough hill to climb in her first season at the helm at Hazen Union, not only having to establish herself as the first female head coach of a boys’ varsity program in school history, but also having to navigate the program through their inaugural season of the Division II-rich Capital League. She passed with flying colors on both counts as her 7-9 squad won five tough matches in the Capital and dominated Leland and Gray 7-1 in the first round of the Division III playoffs, before narrowly falling to Enosburg in the quarterfinals. She’ll have some key holes to fill this fall with four graduation losses, including First Team All-Capital and All-State selection Reed Kehler as well as Tyson Davison who was a Second Team selection. The Wildcats will also be without Felton Meyer after the talented junior midfielder went down with a season-ending shoulder injury early in camp.

“We’ve had some good numbers in camp so far, with a lot of experience returning as well as a good group of talented freshmen. We’ll need some guys to step into some leadership roles this season and you really feel for Felton having his season come to an end so quickly, that is a big loss for this team. Unfortunately we’ve had some scrimmages cancelled due to the weather, but I was encouraged by our preseason round robin tournament at Lake Region where we won a tough match against North Country. The Capital League is extremely challenging, but I feel like we all know what to expect now and the guys are heading into this year with more confidence,” said Paradee.

Jadon Baker, Lincoln Michaud, Gabe Michaud, Tyler Rivard, and Xavier Hill were all Capital League Honorable Mentions last season and they will all return to the pitch this fall for the Wildcats. Cody Trudeau also returns for his senior campaign after injuries shortened his season in 2021, as well as juniors Dan desGroseilliers, Eliot Rosendahl, and the talented sophomore midfielder Gavin Stratton. The Michaud brothers and desGroseilliers will once again set the tone for Paradee’s stingy defense. The trio of Baker, Hill, and Trudeau will be leaned on to create the scoring chances and Rivard will once again be the last line of defense after a stellar first season in goal in 2021.

“This is a strong and athletic group of guys and they all have built great chemistry and have had a lot of success in other programs here at Hazen. That chemistry takes a little longer to build in soccer, but we’re working tirelessly on conditioning, footwork, passes, and controlling possession. We’re extremely solid and experienced defensively and we’ll look to build that offensive chemistry between our midfielders, Jadon, and Cody. I’m impressed with how the guys have looked so far compared to last season and we’re all feeling a little more confident with a season in the Capital League under our belt. BFA-Fairfax is a senior laden team that is very strong and athletic. They will be a very good test for us to start the season,” said Paradee.

The Wildcats will travel to BFA-Fairfax on Wednesday to start the season before hosting Harwood on Saturday at Hudson Fields in their home opener. They are scheduled to travel to U-32 next Tuesday.