MERIDEN — A.J. Hodge has taken over as the new Maloney boys soccer coach for the coming fall seaason.
Hodge, 32, has 14 years of coaching experience, mainly at the premier level. He is a director and coach at Vale Sports Club in Middletown.
Maloney is his first varsity head coaching job.
“I’m super-excited,” Hodge said this week. “I’m intrigued by the difference between premier and what I’m used to now in the high school scene. I’m excited about being a part of that group for two and a half months and to create a good culture.”
A lifelong Rocky Hill resident, Hodge starred as an All-New England and All-State defender at his town’s high school before graduating in 2009. He played a year at Central Connecticut State before starting his coaching career.
At Maloney, Hodge takes over for Dave Parness, who headed the boys team for 12 years before shifting to the Maloney girls program to succeed Eoin McClure.
Thus, both Maloney soccer teams will have new coaches this season, albeit coaches with ample experience.
“It’s a good program and a good community,” said Hodge. “I’m just hoping to add what I can to bring even more soccer to Meriden.”
Hodge first met with his team in the spring and has seen many of his players compete in summer programs.
The Spartans open the 2023 season with four straight games on the road, starting with Hartford Public on Friday, Sept. 8. Their home opener isn’t until Tuesday, Sept. 26 against Bristol Central at Falcon Field.
Maloney went 7-7-0 last year and lost 2-0 to Newington in the opening round of the Class LL state tournament.
“I think there’s a lot of potential,” Hodge said of the 2023 squad. “It’s going to be a young team with four or five seniors. They had a decent year last year and we want to build off of that.”
Ian Sullivan returns as the program’s JV coach. Cullen Mezerewski is the varsity assistant.
Hodge has been a head coach at Vale for six years. Prior to that, he was at Sporting CT and the Connecticut Football Club.
Last fall, he was an assistant for the Rocky Hill boys team, which went 10-4-2 in the regular season and advanced to the Class M quarterfinals before falling 3-2 in overtime to eventual state runner-up Weston.
Meriden Athletic Director Bob McKee said he’s excited to add Hodge to his coaching roster.
“Talking to the Rocky Hill AD, they had nothing but praise about him and I’m excited to see what he can do with the boys program,” McKee said. “I’m pleased to have him and I’m really interested to see what he can do.”