Getting to know you: Hartford boys soccer working Windsor athletes into system

  • Hartford's Adam Dufour clears the ball in front of the Hartford goal with Hartford goalkeeper Jacob Singelais urging him on during their game on Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021 in White River Junction, Vt. Lake Region's Landyn Leach chases Dufour. Both Singelais and Dufour are from Windsor High School. Hartford won 2-0. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News — Jennifer Hauck

  • Hartford soccer coach Kevin Guilbault talks to his team during halftime during their game with Lake Region on Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021 in White River Junction, Vt. Hartford won 2-0. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Hartford's Joey Beggs and Lake Region's Jacob Inkel stay on the ball during their game on Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021 in White River Junction, Vt. Hartford won 2-0. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. valley news photographs — Jennifer Hauck

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 9/8/2021 9:42:35 PM
Modified: 9/8/2021 9:42:43 PM

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — Hartford High boys soccer abruptly welcomed several new players during preseason.

When Windsor High determined it didn’t have enough players to field a team in 2021, the Yellowjackets entered a member-to-member agreement with the Hurricanes. Just days after playing a scrimmage, seven Windsor players showed up to Hartford practice.

Two dropped out, and one was sent to junior varsity. But the four remaining Windsor players saw action for Hartford, and some played key roles, in the Canes’ 2-0 win over Lake Region High on Wednesday at Maxfield Sports Complex.

Hartford head coach Kevin Guilbault said the four Windsor players — senior Jacob Singelais, senior Bryce Moody, senior Adam Dufour and freshman Sam Peckinpaugh — have blended in well with the rest of the team. He said Hartford (1-1-0) is used to bringing in outside players and making them fit, noting previous transplants from schools such as Cornish, Hartland, Plainfield and Sharon.

“It’s always been a program where we’ve got kids coming in from other communities, and our kids are very inclusive. They make the kids feel welcome,” Guilbault said. “The Windsor kids are great kids, so it was easy for them to incorporate.”

Hartford jumped out to an early lead, when junior Gabe Guillette finished a rebound in the 12th minute after a nifty assist by junior Nolan McMahon. The Hurricanes dominated possession during the first half and created ample opportunities throughout the game.

Lake Region (0-1-0) settled in during the second half, though, and the more chances Hartford squandered, the more concern grew for some on the Hurricanes’ bench.

Guilbault, on several occasions, turned to his bench in frustration after a missed opportunity and said, “Those have to be goals at this level.”

But goalkeeper Singelais wasn’t too stressed. Even though Lake Region sustained more possession, there were only two close calls for the Canes’ defense. One, a free kick, went over the bar, and Singelais saved the other, a scorching low shot tailing away from him.

“It was a tad nerve-wracking, but I trusted my defense,” Singelais said. “They didn’t really give me a reason not to.”

Hartford put the game away with nine minutes to go as McMahon recorded his second assist. Freshman Nolan Morlock dribbled past the Rangers’ goalkeeper and calmly sent the ball over the line.

Guilbault was pleased with the way his team rebounded from its 6-0 loss to Milton on Saturday to open the season.

“The boys had been working hard, had five great days of practice before Milton. Milton didn’t go the way we wanted to,” Guilbault said. “They continued to work hard and have good practices. We switched some things around lineup-wise, and I think we (were) a little bit more solid in the back, as opposed to the other day.”

Playing a sport for a different school is not a new experience for Singelais. He also plays tennis for Woodstock Union High. The difference this time is that he has Windsor teammates alongside him.

He said it took him about a week to feel fully comfortable with Hartford. They had little time after joining forces before they played another scrimmage, and Singelais got sick for one after that.

As a goalkeeper, his communication with and trust in a defense is crucial to success. Singelais said it didn’t take long for that rapport to develop between him and his new teammates.

The other jarring aspect of joining the Canes for Singelais was how many people were at practice. The Yellowjackets only had nine players before deciding to scrap their 2021 team. After Singelais and his Windsor teammates arrived at Hartford, there were over 50 athletes in the program between varsity and JV. That was a bit of a culture shock.

“I feel like it was just time. More practices, like the amount of practices we had together, and just finally evolving to trust each other,” Singelais said.

“The first game, we weren’t trusting each other to make a run. It was more people doing one-on-ones. Today, we finally started passing, giving different runs and opening up the field even more.”

Guilbault isn’t concerned about managing playing time between the Windsor kids and his Hartford kids. He said he dealt with a similar situation last fall when some football players considered switching to soccer. He sees Hartford players and Windsor players all as one group now.

“I was posed the question then, if a football player is better than a soccer player, you’re going to play him? My answer is, ‘If he’s signed up and playing soccer, he’s a soccer player,’ ” Guilbault said. “If these kids are showing up to our practices, they’re Hartford kids, and that’s kind of the way we feel about it.”

Seth Tow can be reached at stow@vnews.com.




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