Taking care of business

Hazel Park High girls soccer off to a good start

By: Christian Davis | Madison - Park News | Published March 28, 2016

 Hazel Park coach Denis Dixon keeps an eye on his team in the season’s opening tournament March 19 at home. The Vikings won all four of their games.

Hazel Park coach Denis Dixon keeps an eye on his team in the season’s opening tournament March 19 at home. The Vikings won all four of their games.

Photo by Donna Agusti

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HAZEL PARK — The early returns have been strong for the Hazel Park High girls soccer team.

The Vikings hosted a tournament March 19 and won all four of their games, beating Ferndale High, Southfield Christian, Livonia Clarenceville and Redford Union.

“I think so far, the varsity is coming together pretty well,” junior Raena Travis said before practice began March 21.

“Especially Saturday, that proved it,” junior Kara Martin added.

Travis and Martin, both of whom have started since they were freshmen, provide much of the scoring punch for the Vikings. Both scored more than 20 goals last season, and Martin added 38 assists.

“So almost every goal is coming off of her foot,” Hazel Park coach Denis Dixon said, noting that Martin was an honorable-mention All-State selection last year.

Travis and Martin captain the squad along with senior Brooke Buckner, who is the only senior in the starting lineup.

Buckner is in her fourth year on varsity and plays sweeper, or as Dixon called her, “the quarterback of the defense.”

“It’s probably the most important spot. If you have a hole in your defense and can’t stop anybody, you’re in trouble,” Dixon said.

While young in age, the Vikings have experience with 10 returning starters from a team that finished 12-5-1 last season and in the middle of the pack in the Oakland Activities Association Blue Division.

Martin is back at center midfielder.

“In my mind, she’s one of the top three girls in the OAA Blue,” Dixon said. “She does everything. She plays defense; she plays midfield; she scores.”

Travis returns to forward. Dixon said her speed sets her apart, figuratively and literally, from much of the opposition, and that her dad, Tim, is the varsity boys coach.

“She’s always on the soccer field. She knows the game, and has good intuitive skills and knows when to break on the ball,” Dixon said.

As for the OAA Blue, Dixon expects Birmingham Groves, Birmingham Seaholm and West Bloomfield High to battle for the championship, and his squad to finish in the division’s top half.

“We just want to be as successful as we can, to win as many games that we possibly can,” he said. “‘Let’s be better than last year’ — that’s what I tell the team. ‘Take care of the things that we can take care of.’”

Catch the Vikings at 5 p.m. April 12 at Pontiac High.

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