Wildcats Finish Regular Season on High Note

photo by Vanessa Fournier
Wildcat Lincoln Michaud (No. 16) races the ball up the field as a determined Max Kuhnle (No. 7) of Peoples Academy tries to gain possession during action in Hardwick Wednesday. The Wolves edged by the Wildcats 1-0.

by Ken Brown

HARDWICK – Following a pair of grueling and emotional losses to Peoples Academy and Lake Region last week, the Hazen Union boys’ soccer team got their offensive rhythm going against Lyndon Institute to wrap up the regular season at 5-8-1.

Nathan Nolan converted a penalty kick midway through the second half for the only score of the match to power Peoples Academy past Hazen 1-0 on the road last Wednesday. A hand ball in the penalty box with 20 minutes left in regulation awarded the visiting team a penalty kick, in which Nolan calmly converted in the right corner. Tyler Rivard made 15 stops on the day in the loss. Chandler Follensbee and the Wolve’s defense recorded their sixth shutout of the season.

Hazen Union seniors Jadon Baker, Cody Trudeau, Tyler Rivard, and Lincoln Michaud were recognized at halftime for their outstanding high school careers on the pitch. Former Hazen athletic director John Sperry led the crowd and both teams in a moment of silence before the start of the match to honor Hazen athletic director Jared Cushing, who took his own life only two days prior. An exhausted Wildcat squad would turn around on Friday for a road match against Lake Region, falling 5-1. Xavier Hill tallied the lone goal for Hazen.

photo by Vanessa Fournier
Hazen Union’s Seville Murphy stops the ball for a pass ahead of Ian Nolan of Peoples Academy October 19 on Hudson Field in Hardwick. Guarding the goal for P.A. is Chandler Follensbee. Peoples got by Hazen 1-0.

“It’s been a challenging season to begin with, but losing Jared last week was devastating to our team and the Hazen athletic community. The best thing about this community is how much we rally around and lean on each other in difficult times and last week was proof of that. Peoples was a very tough match on Senior Night, but it was the best soccer my team has played all season. They played smart, possessed the ball, and worked together as a cohesive unit. Even though we lost the match, the way they played is what they are capable of and what I see at practice every day. It is proof that we can be competitive against good programs like this in the Capital League. After a physical and emotional match on Wednesday, I think the weight of losing Jared and a long week had the boys off their game a little bit against Lake Region,” said head coach Allison Paradee.

Cody Trudeau busted out for a four goal performance on Saturday to power the Wildcats to a decisive 12-2 road win over Lyndon Institute. Jadon Baker also found the back of the net three times and Tyler Rivard moved out of the goal to score his first two goals of the season. Xavier Hill, Ari Jurkiewicz, and Gavin Stratton rounded out the scoring for Hazen.

photo by Vanessa Fournier
Jadon Baker (No. 4) of Hazen Union and Noah Lynch (No. 15) of Peoples race for control of the ball from going out of bounds on Hudson Field October 19. Players in the back (from left): Gabriel Michaud of Hazen, Zander Waskoch of Peoples, Sullivan Laflam of Hazen and Max Kuhnle of Peoples. The Wolves won 1-0.

“It was a fun match for the boys to play, allowing the kids to move around the field and make sure my younger kids got some more varsity experience. Our rematch with BFA-Fairfax this week will be a physical match and we’ll have to work very hard against the excitement of the playoffs and their home-field advantage. We’ll have to continue to possess the ball and move it up the field with smart passes, good communication, and the same intensity that I saw against Peoples Academy,” said Paradee.

The Wildcats are ranked tenth in the Division III standings and will travel to No. 7 BFA-Fairfax on Wednesday to kick off the first round of the Division III tournament. Hazen Union won their season opener against the Bullets 3-2 back in September.