Lucas Bergeron, left, of Oak Hill High School and Hayden Fletcher of Monmouth Academy compete for the ball during a September game in Monmouth. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal file photo

Hayden Fletcher is a laid-back soccer player who, although he scored a program-record 110 goals during his career at Monmouth Academy, would be just as comfortable playing in the midfield or defense as he is at forward.

Fletcher’s easygoing style embodied the Mustangs this season. Prior to a preseason game against Camden Hills, coach Joe Fletcher, Hayden’s father, asked the players to work hard during the pregame warmups to get their heart rate up, like he always does. Hayden and the players did work as hard as Joe would have liked, so Joe turned to his coaching staff to talk about the problem.

The staff suggested that Joe should “let it happen.” He did, and the Mustangs ended up playing what Joe Fletcher called a “really competitive game against a Class A powerhouse.” 

“At that point, I started to relax a little bit in my demand for them to work hard in the warmup,” Joe Fletcher said. “I think it’s a reflection of Hayden. He leads by example, he is a hard working kid and the game comes very easy to him. He’s kind of a natural, especially scoring goals.”

Hayden Fletcher’s hard work, soccer IQ and goal scoring all contribute to the senior’s selection as the Sun Journal All-Region Boys Soccer Player of the Year for the second season in a row.

Joe Fletcher said Hayden is in sync with his soccer senses.

“He’s mentioned this to me, where the game seems to slow down for him, whereas a lot of other players, when they have a chance to score, they rush,” Joe Fletcher said. “I don’t think Hayden rushed, he let the game come to him. The game really slows down for him, which is nice.”

Joe Fletcher cites a game-winning goal by Hayden as an example of how clearly he sees the game.

“For example, when we played Hall-Dale in the playoffs, he had a one-on-one play with a defender playing him square, shoulder to shoulder, and Hayden realized that and faked left and pushed the ball right and then took a hard shot and scored the goal and won the game for us,” Joe Fletcher said. “Not many high schoolers can read a defense like that and figure out what he’s being given and take advantage of it.”

Lucas Bergeron, left, of Oak Hill High School and Hayden Fletcher of Monmouth Academy compete for the ball during a September game in Monmouth. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal file photo

Fletcher was the catalyst for the Mustangs’ offense this season — he scored 36 goals and assisted on 12 others — but in their Class C South semifinal matchup with Mt. Abram, he started at center back.

“I just think that wherever I help the team best, that’s what I would want to do,” Hayden Fletcher said. “I have no problem playing any position on the field; I’ll give it my all and hopefully it works out.

“I started at center back and I think I moved up to midfield for like, five minutes. That’s what our team needed that day and I wasn’t going to let our team down. We gave it our all.”

Being a “technically and tactically advanced player,” as Joe Fletcher calls him, allows Hayden to play all over the field. Fletcher’s goal-scoring was a major part of Monmouth’s 11-2-2 record in 2021, but his play on the backline in the 1-0 double-overtime playoff loss to Mt. Abram was Hayden’s best game, according to his father. 

“He would rather be a center back, to be honest with you,” Joe Fletcher said. “He is trying to figure out where he’s going to play in college next year, but he will probably, if he plays soccer, he will most likely be a back. He did what we needed him to do for our program. He’s a gifted goal scorer and ended with 110, which is remarkable.”

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