Friday night at Harwood Union High School was once again a place for the community to mourn and cherish the lives lost in last Saturday’s wrong-way driver crash on Interstate 89. As hundreds of fans flocked for the second night in a row down the hill at Harwood to support their girls soccer team as they faced off, one player down, against U-32.
The night before was the boys soccer match between these two schools. The Harwood boys had honored the two boys whose lives were lost last Saturday; Eli Brookens and Cyrus Zschau who had been starters and long time friends with the Harwood team. The Harwood Coach also honored Seamus Beall, the stand out soccer star for U-32 who passed away over the summer while swimming in Curtis Pond with his friends. Soccer balls were given to the three families as a gift from the teams.
An opening ceremony was held on both nights, in which both teams joined arm-in-arm around the center circle of the field, unified as one greater community grieving the lives lost. Along with that, all of the hundreds of spectators joined the teams in the center of the field, locking arms about fifteen feet outside of the teams forming an exterior circle.
Before each game got underway both teams passed the ball around, letting each player touch it as a symbol of togetherness before kicking it out of bounds and starting the match.
Right off of the start, U-32 controlled the possession, and just 3 minutes into the game U-32 senior striker Aine Kennedy received a through ball pass from senior midfielder Maggie Kirby and got in behind the Harwood defense before playing the ball into the goal past the Harwood keeper, giving the Raiders an early 1-0 lead.
After the first goal the Highlanders pushed back with two shots by number 14, Eleanor Reily, in the 7th and 9th minutes. This flame was quickly put out as another pass across the box from the right by Kirby was headed in by U-32 winger Ruby Lamb at the 14 minute mark. U-32 scored putting them up 2-0 early in the first half.
Harwood goalie Eve Golden was overcome with tears as her emotions of last weeks tragedy became too much. Her team mates came to her support, hugging and comforting her, some tearing up as well before head coach Mike Vasseur came over and helped them regroup.
Harwood them put pressure on the Raiders defenders taking the next shots of the game at the 17th and 18th minutes. Then in the 25th minute Marcella Grimaldi crossed a ball into the box and Midfielder Keara Hallam touched it in off of the back post, cutting the Raider lead in half.
There was a scary situation in the 34th minute of the opening half for Raiders Keeper Jayden Hudson as a corner kick was played into the box and was kicked around by numerous players. Hudson challenged a 50/50 ball and was taken down by a highlander attacks and remained on the ground until the ball way played into the goal by Brynne Quirion. The goal was waved off however due to the injury. Hudson remained on the ground after play had stopped for 10 minutes, being checked out by the Harwood trainer before getting up on her own power and exiting the field. She did not return.
Harwood came out strong in the second half, controlling the possession for the first 15 minutes of the half and getting the tying goal just 3 minutes into the half as Quirion broke away from the Raider defense and placed it past U-32 backup keeper Jordan Kellett.
Play became back and forth throughout the next 10 minutes of the half before Kennedy tallied two more goals in the 26 and 27th minutes as she walked around a defender before putting it in, bottom corner. She then received a pass from fellow attacker Lydia Rice, got it taken away, then gained possession back shooting it top shelf to improve the Raider lead to 4-2.
“The game was very emotional for both teams, and they both put their hearts into this hard fought contest,” said Ethan Scharf, a spectator to the game, and also U-32 boys starting goalkeeper. “Kennedy did a great job, getting the hat trick and then some.”
U-32 improves to 6-3-2 on the season and will face Lyndon in their senior game this upcoming Wednesday. As Harwood, now 4-5-1 and will take on Stowe Wednesday as well.