by Ken Brown
HARDWICK – Mother Nature erased a hot start to the Hazen Union girls’ soccer team’s season last week and Division III Vergennes took advantage of their second chance in the Lady Cats’ opener.
Ava Francis scored the game-winner in overtime on a feed from Ella Romond to help Vergennes earn a hard fought 1-0 road win over Hazen on Saturday. The match was rescheduled and replayed over the weekend after both teams squared off at Hudson Fields on Thursday, before severe weather swooped in. All-State senior Caitlyn Davison juked a pair of Lady Commodore defenders, before beating Faith McAllister in the left corner from long range to give the Lady Cats a 1-0 advantage 10 minutes into the match. Heavy winds and lightning would halt the contest moments later and both teams agreed to replay the match two days later after a lengthy weather delay.
“It was very disappointing not to be able to finish the match on Thursday after the start that we had, but ultimately the right decision was made factoring in the delay, the amount of time in the match remaining, daylight remaining, and the long trip back for Vergennes to get home,” said head coach Harry Besett.
Round two over the weekend was a defensive battle between both teams, with Hazen Union winning the shot battle 12-7. McAllister was up to the challenge however, recording the second shutout of the season for the Vergennes defense. Ella Renaud was equally as impressive for the Lady Cats, making seven stops on the day, before Francis broke free for a one-on-one opportunity.
“Both teams had a good physical battle in the heat as both defenses dominated. I thought we had more promising opportunities in the attacking third, but always finished with tame shots to their keeper. We had a lapse in defense after 80 minutes in the heat and gifted them a great opportunity that they capitalized on by tucking it into the bottom left corner,” said Besett.
The Lady Cats were a young program on the rise late last fall, winning four of their last six matches entering the Division IV tournament. With Davison patrolling the midfield, key returning pieces, and the addition of eight Craftsbury Academy players, including First Team All-Mountain League Sadie Skorstad, Besett has a lot to be optimistic about going forward.
“The weather rescheduling and the end result on Saturday were disappointing, but we take some encouraging signs from our play against Vergennes. We play Peoples Academy next, a team we haven’t beaten in two decades. Vergennes handled them 3-0 to open their season so we hope to bounce back this week and kick off our second game of the season with a win,” said Besett.
The Lady Cats welcomed Peoples Academy to town on Monday, will travel to Division IV power Blue Mountain on Wednesday, and will wrap up a busy week by hosting Winooski on Saturday afternoon.