by Ken Brown
HARDWICK – Tenth seeded Green Mountain stunned a hobbled Hazen Union boys’ soccer team in overtime last week in the first round of the Division III playoffs.
Austin Kubisek broke free for the game-winner in the opening minutes of the second overtime to lead Green Mountain to a 3-2 upset over the Wildcats last Wednesday.
Tate Pellerin gave the Chieftains an early 1-0 advantage midway through the first half with a rebound off a point blank save from Wildcat keeper Grayson McNaughten.
Seville Murphy fed fellow sophomore Sully Laflam six minutes later to tie the match at 1-1.
With nine seconds left in the first half, Wildcat leading goal scorer Xavier Hill was taken down in the penalty area, but Hazen missed a chance to carry momentum into the break when Eliot Rosendahl missed the penalty kick high and right. Hill was hobbled the rest of the match and left head coach Allison Paradee shorthanded with her second leading goal scorer unable to dress because of injury in Craftsbury Academy’s Dylan Washer.
Kubisek struck again midway through the second half from point blank range to give the visitors a 2-1 advantage.
Laflam answered for the equalizer once again with 13 minutes left in regulation, burying a half-volley off a header from Hill.
Green Mountain controlled play in the extra period, but were denied several times from Craftsbury Academy’s McNaughten.
Sophomore Ari Jurkievicz nearly netted the game winner for Hazen to start the second overtime, but his shot rolled just wide of the far post.
Pellerin finally broke through a tired Wildcat defense less than two minutes into the second overtime to pull the upset.
McNaughten made 19 saves in the loss for Hazen. Forest Garvin made six stops for Green Mountain, who lost to second seeded Peoples Academy 2-1 on Saturday in the quarterfinals.
“Dylan sustained a concussion in the Stowe game and his return to play schedule unfortunately had him out for the first round of the playoffs. Both Xavier and Eliot sustained injuries during the match, but both insisted on going back in to help fight against a tough Green Mountain team. None of us were expecting our season to end that day and we were all incredibly disappointed. My team played hard against tough Capital League opponents to end the regular season and we were expecting to carry that over to the Green Mountain match. Their style threw us off a bit and ultimately they earned the win. I can’t help but wonder how we would have done with a couple altered variables, including the injuries to Xavier, Eliot, and Dylan,” said Paradee.
Paradee will have holes to fill next fall with the graduation losses of Hill, Rosendahl, Washer, Fenton Meyer, Gabe Michaud, and Dan des Groseilliers. Hill had a breakout senior campaign scoring nine times and Washer adjusted to Division III soccer seamlessly with six goals. Michaud, Rosendahl, and des Groseilliers anchored the defense in front of McNaughten all season. The emergence of Laflam as a dangerous goal scorer along with 16 freshman and sophomores returning with meaningful varsity experience has the future looking bright for Paradee’s program.
“This group of seniors really learned to build their footwork and passing to command the game, as opposed to using their strength and physicality. Sportsmanship wasn’t a huge concern for me with this group this year and they all showed a desire to just wanting to play the game of soccer. Sully, Ari, and Seville are going to be a force and leaders on the field for us over the next couple of years. There are strengths all over the field in this large group of freshman and sophomores and although we could have some growing pains next season, they all have the skills and talent that will allow us to compete at this level. This season demonstrated the possibilities that lie ahead for this program. We have a focused and determined community of both players, coaches, as well as both athletic directors from Hazen and Craftsbury Academy. We have begun conversations on how to ensure the soccer program continues to grow in enthusiasm, notability, and representation in the Hardwick area athletic scene,” said Paradee.
Peoples Academy will continue their title defense against the third seed Randolph and top seeded Stowe squares off against fifth seeded Enosburg on Wednesday, with the winners advancing to the Division III state title match on Friday.