by Ken Brown
HARDWICK- Hopes of a deep run through the playoffs were dashed last week for the Hazen Union girls’ soccer team, as eleventh seeded Richford pulled the upset in the first round of the Division IV tournament.
Junior Kyrielle Deuso broke free midway through the first half for the eventual game winner to power Richford to a 1-0 road upset over the Lady Cats last Tuesday. Nineteen minutes into the first half, Lilly Longe fed a streaking Deuso, who calmly ripped it into the back of the net for a 1-0 lead. It was the first goal in four matches for the Lady Rockets, who limped into the postseason on an eight-game losing streak. Hazen defeated Richford 2-0 at home late last month during the regular season.
“It’s disappointing. Richford’s intensity and aggressive pressing stopped all of our scoring threats and we had a hard time finding shots on target. A ball off the crossbar, a free kick at the keeper, and a missed chance after their keeper bobbled the ball were our best chances to get back into the match. After going down early in the first half, we just couldn’t seem to create a quality chance to tie up the match,” said head coach Harry Besett.
Richford’s defensive back Hannah Marlow turned away another potential Lady Cat equalizer when she cleared away a shot heading towards an empty net midway through the second half.
Ella Renaud made seven saves in the loss for Hazen as their season came to an end at 7-7-1. Vanessa Terrier made four stops for Richford to earn her first shutout of the season.
The Lady Rockets were a ten-win quarterfinal team in 2022 and had championship aspirations behind their dynamic scorer Deuso coming into this season. After a promising 2-1 start, injuries and illness made it a struggle for them to merely field a full team. Finally healthy, their win on Tuesday was the program’s first in nearly a month. Richford fell to third seeded Rivendell Academy 5-2 on Friday in the quarterfinal round. Deuso scored two more goals for the Lady Rockets, giving her 41 for her impressive high school career.
Besett will lose a talented group of seniors that include Caitlyn Davison, Tessa Luther, and Sarah Collier. Craftsbury Academy’s Sadie Skorstad, Savannah Boyce, and Sophia Augsberger also will be lost to graduation. There will be holes to fill next fall for Besett, but the emergence of a dynamic freshman class this fall surrounding leading goal scorer Isabelle Gouin, has the future looking bright for the Lady Cat program for years to come.
“This year’s seniors will be a big loss for the program on and off the field. They’ve been mature leaders that consistently work hard and help everyone around them. We game planned around their strengths tactically, so next season has the potential for a big team shift. This freshman class was a huge boost for our team and they show a lot of promise for success in the future. We already had young players in key starting roles, so we have two more years to create strong playing relationships together. We improved vastly defensively this season and competed in every game. There wasn’t a single match that felt out of reach. If we can keep our defensive form next season and create more chances in front of goal, we have the potential to have a very strong team,” said Besett.
Top seeded Arlington matched up with fourth seeded West Rutland and second seeded Leland & Gray and Rivendell Academy squared off on Tuesday, with the winners advancing to Saturday’s Division IV state title match.