Real Central NJ Soccer today announced Nick Hazel is returning to the club’s USL League Two squad for the 2022 season, pending league and federation approval. The Lafayette midfielder appeared in seven matches for RCNJ in its inaugural season after finishing the unusual NCAA spring season.
In 2021, Hazel appeared in every match for the Leopards and earned Patriot League Co-Defender of the Year and Patriot League All-League First Team honors in the spring. He was named to the Top Drawer Soccer Top 100 ranking and was on the 2022 Major League Soccer SuperDraft list.
“I’m looking forward to this summer and what we can do this season,” said Hazel. “Last season was fun being new and building something from scratch. I think with the guys coming in for the summer we have a good chance at being competitive.”
Hazel played for Patriot FC in his youth career after moving to Florence Township in middle school. He played high school soccer for Florence and broke the school record with 98 goals. Hazel was recognized as Co-Area Player of the Year and First-Team All-County selection as a junior and senior.
“We’re really excited and thankful that Nick is coming back again this season,” said head coach Brian Woods. “He had some offers to play with MLS teams this summer, but he wanted to come back and help us build after the club’s first season.”
USL League Two is a pre-professional soccer league that allows elite college talent to play at a highly competitive level in the NCAA off-season. League Two is known for giving players a stepping stone to the professional game.
“I definitely want to go to the next level,” said Hazel, who will be returning to Lafayette for a fifth season. “It’s always been something that I thought about. After the COVID season, I was being recognized for my play and that’s when going professional became a more real possibility.”
“Nick is a fantastic team player and did a lot for our club last year,” said men’s general manager Ira Jersey. “His community engagement, professional attitude, and worth ethic rubbed off on everyone he touched base with. He really connected with the kids at an even we did with the Boys and Girls Club and they responded to his love of the game.”
Hazel and RCNJ will open the 2022 USL League Two season at Philadelphia Lone Star on May 14th. The men’s will host the Ocean City Nor’Easters on May 21st for its home opener at Mercer County Community college.
Follow @realcentralnj on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for future player announcements and to keep up with the team for the upcoming season.