HUDSON — It’s been a tough opening to the season for the Hudson boys soccer squad, but a win over one of Ohio’s top ranked teams in Division I would be a springboard for the second half of the season.
For 75 minutes, Hudson looked to be in line for just such a win over North Royalton Tuesday at Memorial Stadium — until one bad moment cost the Explorers the victory.
An own goal in the 75th minute turned a 1-0 Hudson lead into a 1-1 draw. Hudson moved to 2-5-1, 0-2-1 in the Suburban League National Conference.
North Royalton, which was ranked 13th in Division I in the most recent Ohio Scholastic Soccer Coaches Association poll, suffered the first blemish at 5-0-1.
Hudson coach Steve Knapp was rueful after the draw, noting his team played well enough to win.
"We’re still searching to find that signature win. This would have been it," Knapp said. "We played really well. Sometimes, when you don’t finish and get a second goal, it turns into a scrappy match."
Bears coach Jason Rutkowski has plenty of praise for Hudson.
"For a the first 65 minutes of the game, we weren’t able to play soccer the way we want to," Rutkowski said. "We were lucky we didn’t got down by two or three goals. Hudson did a great job of controlling the midfield and out outside backs has to be more direct."
Knapp agreed Hudson’s midfield dominated the contest.
"[Junior] Jarrett Widdoes and [sophomore] Ben Hallis won the midfield tonight," Knapp said. "They haven’t done that consistently. Tonight, they put together 80 minutes."
Neither team looked dangerous early in the contest, but Hudson was able to press North Royalton’s goal more as the first half went on.
The pressure paid off in the 38th minute, as senior Ryan Sarkisian stole the ball and made a run to the end line.
Sarkisian slid the ball into the box and freshman Sean Durkin smashed it home, giving Hudson the 1-0 lead.
After the half, Hudson had a few chances to double the lead, but missed the net. North Royalton finished with a 4-3 edge in shots on goal, while Hudson had a 3-2 edge in corner kicks.
It was a good night for both goaltenders, as Hudson Tyler Venti stopped all four Bears shots that he faced, while the Bears’ Nick Mark had three saves.
Both goaltenders did a good job cutting out crosses and controlling their respective penalty areas.
In the final 15 minutes, North Royalton threw everything it had at the Hudson goal, often pushing its defenders well into Explorer territory.
However, it was a quick counterattack that allowed the Bears back into the game.
Bears captain Hayden Haffner was able to run onto a diagonal ball into the Hudson penalty area. Haffner slid a square ball past Venti and the ball went off the Explorers’ Josh Rosenweig’s foot and into his own net.
"That’s not Josh’s fault in any way," Knapp said. "We got countered when we were up 1-0. That simply can’t happen."
Hudson will have a full week off and will return to action next Tuesday at Cuyahoga Falls at 7 p.m.