by Ken Brown
HARDWICK – The youth movement officially arrived last week for the Hazen Union girls’ soccer team, as the Lady Cats went unbeaten against Peoples Academy (PA), Blue Mountain (BM), and Winooski behind a trio of scores from sophomore Isabelle Gouin.
Hazen and Division III Peoples Academy played to a 0-0 defensive stalemate last Monday at Hudson Fields. Ella Renaud recorded her first shutout of the season with an eight-save effort for Hazen and PA’s Sadie Baranyay matched her with eight stops of her own. Baranyay thwarted the Lady Cats’ best look at a game-winner, punching a direct kick from senior Caitlyn Davison over the crossbar. With the draw, the Lady Wolves improved to 2-4-1 on the season.
“It was a hard-fought battle for both teams and we each had decent opportunities to score, but missed the frame of goal on each occasion,” said head coach Harry Besett.
The season got jump-started in a big way for Hazen Union on Wednesday, coming back from two scores down to beat Blue Mountain 3-2 on the road behind a pair of goals from Gouin.
Jordan Alley buried a feed from Karli Blood 27 minutes in to give BM a 1-0 lead and Blood would make it 2-0 less than four minutes later for a 2-0 advantage heading into the break.
Davison and fellow senior Tessa Luther fed Gouin with a pair of perfect through balls that the super sophomore finished in the first 20 minutes of the second half to tie the match at 2-2.
With 13 minutes in regulation, freshman Autumn Dailey connected from long range for her first varsity goal to complete the come-back and give the Lady Cats an improbable road win. Renaud made nine stops for Hazen in the win. Felicity Sulham recorded 14 saves in the loss as the Lady Bucks fell to 0-3 on the season. BM beat Hazen 6-1 last fall on their way to an 11-win season.
“We looked like a totally different team in the second half. We were able to string passes together to control the midfield and Caitlyn and Tessa fed Isabelle with some clever through balls on the ground. Solid defensive work from the entire team allowed us to hang on and win the last 13 minutes of the match,” said Besett.
Hazen Union kept their momentum going over the weekend with a solid 2-0 home win over Winooski.
Freshman Mya Lumsden and Taylor Thompson combined to break a 0-0 tie early in the second half for Hazen, with Thompson getting the final touch in the goal line scramble to record her first ever varsity goal.
Fellow freshman Kelsie Renaud fed Gouin for an insurance goal with a perfect through ball with less than 10 minutes remaining. It was the tenth career goal for Gouin, who burst on the scene with seven scores last fall for Besett as a speedy freshman.
Ella Renaud continued her strong play in net for the Lady Cats, making eight more stops to preserve the shut-out. Moo Thay Lay Htoo recorded seven saves for Winooski in the loss as they fell to 1-2.
“I thought we dominated possession in the first half with some good passes, but Winooski’s defensive was lying deep and would prove tough to break down. The match opened up more for both teams after the break. Kelsie did a nice job of dribbling the ball over the halfway line on the right flank to get a well weighted through ball to Isabelle. She still had a lot of work to do against their center back who tried to shoulder her off her line, but Isabelle had a beautiful finish in the bottom left corner. Isabelle and Winooski’s Ketila Selamani had the play of the day early in the first half with an equal pair of offensive and defensive efforts,” said Besett.
The surging Lady Cats will have their hands full this week as they traveled to Division II Enosburg on Tuesday before hosting a red-hot Richford team on Friday.