by Frank Aceto
Associate Sports Editor
Hudson -- Last year, the Stow-Munroe Falls field hockey team gave Hudson all it could handle at Bulldog Stadium.
And that same Lady Explorer squad ended up reaching the state title match.
This year, the Lady Bulldogs, who have come a long way in recent years, were eager to get a chance to upset their talented rivals from the north.
But it was not to be.
Hudson improved to 4-0 on the season after cruising to a 7-0 victory over Stow Sept. 8 at Hudson Memorial Stadium.
The Lady Explorers kept the ball on the offensive end for much of the afternoon and got four goals from senior forward Sarah Keller.
The Lady Bulldogs were one of Hudson's toughest opponents in 2015 after losing a tense 4-3 decision to the Lady Explorers.
Not this time.
"With Stow being so close to Hudson, they're a huge rival," Lady Explorers head coach Laurie Wilkins said. "Every year, they give us a game. We knew it was an emotional game for Stow."
Keller, Hudson's leading scorer from last year, scored twice in each half and took most of the Lady Explorers' penalty corners.
Hudson had a 14-0 edge in penalty corners as the Lady Bulldogs' defense found itself on its heels for much of the match.
The Lady Explorers led 3-0 at halftime and continued to pour it on once the players returned to the field.
"They're a good team," Stow head coach Virginia Wohlabaugh said. "They move the ball well. They have 22 girls and we have 14
"I have a young team and we don't have the substitutes to match their depth."
The Lady Bulldogs (2-2) had a couple of chances deep in Hudson's end, but Stow couldn't get shots off.
It could have been much worse. The Lady Explorers had an 18-0 edge in shots on goal and were constantly close to the Lady Bulldogs' cage.
Stow deflected a number of shots and got numerous kick saves from sophomore goalie Emma Hurguy, who finished with 17 stops.
"We have a young team and they're working hard," Wohlabaugh said. "We lost a lot of seniors from last year."
While Keller proved to be a handful for Stow, Hudson had other offensive stars make their marks.
Junior defender Sofia Hess scored just before halftime and sophomore forwards Katie Moloney and Grace Hildebrand also found the cage for the Lady Explorers.
Forwards Eliza Green, a senior, and McKenna Thomas, a junior, each contributed two assists for Hudson.
The Lady Explorers' other assist came from sophomore midfielder Tyler Vidmar.
"This group is so coachable," Wilkins said. "I'm proud of the girls. They have grown in every game."
Stow also is growing.
But the Lady Bulldogs have a long way to go before they reach Hudson's level.
"We have a lot to improve," Wohlabaugh said. "[Senior defenders] Maddie Finks and Gabby Kingston are my captains. Sam Houk also is a leader. She has eight goals in our first four games."
Stow is scheduled to host Western Reserve Academy Sept. 12 and Hathaway Brown Sept. 15. Both contests are set to begin at 4:30 p.m.
The Lady Bulldogs are scheduled to play Pine-Richland Sept. 17 in Gibsonia, Pa. Play is set to begin at 11 a.m.