Boys soccer coaches in the Suburban League National Conference will say every conference game is a challenge.
For the Hudson boys soccer team, it’s a case of one challenge down, six to go.
The Explorers opened play in the National Conference Aug. 29 by scoring a 1-0 win over Brecksville-Broadview Heights at Hudson Memorial Stadium. It was the Bees’ first loss of the season, while Hudson moved to 2-2 overall and 1-0 in the National Conference.
"I think it was a really good win for us," Explorers head coach Steve Knapp said. "The first one is really a tough one, especially against Brecksville. Traditionally, they’re always a strong program."
It was a battle between Hudson’s possession-based offense against the Bees’ direct attack.
"They’ve got four strong guys up top," Knapp said. "Because of the makeup of their team, they always looked to bypass the midfield. I think they did a good job of pressing us when we had the ball."
The Explorers had a few scoring chances in the first half, but were unable to convert. Knapp noted the majority of Hudson’s chances came not from the Explorers’ passing, but from Brecksville’s defensive errors.
So, with game tied 0-0 at the half, Knapp decided to make a unique tactical switch: Let Brecksville have more of the ball.
"It was a weird game because we let them have it and pressed," he said. "They possessed the ball for the first 10 minutes of the second half and we were fine with that. We moved up a holding defensive midfielder, playing with one instead of two, and waited to counter a little."
While it may have seemed counterintuitive, the strategy worked. Knapp noted Hudson had several quality chances and "shaved the post" in the second half.
The breakthrough came from a 56th minute when the Explorers earned a free kick just outside the box.
David Tullett sent a curling ball into the box, which senior captain Wilson Satterle headed home past Bees’ keeper Zach Bahr. Bahr had 5 saves on the night.
"It was a really nice header goal," Knapp said. "I think it was part of the time in the game where we were dominating."
Knapp noted forward Ryan Sarkisian was able to get behind Brecksville’s defense on a couple of occasions, but he could not find the net.
Knapp lauded midfielder Sebastian Kreiss for his work as Hudson’s lone holding midfielder after the Explorers’ tactical switch.
"He was able to clean up everything for us and really let us get forward on the press," Knapp said.
Hudson goalkeeper Conny Gynn finished with 3 saves on the night and cut out several crosses from the Bees. Knapp noted Gynn was never really tested, saying the most dangerous moment came when the Explorers’ defense shanked a clearance on a Brecksville corner kick. The ball was cleared off the line.
Hudson finished with a 6-3 edge in shots on goal and a 5-2 edge in corner kicks.
The Explorers are scheduled to entertain Medina at Memorial Stadium Sept. 2 at 7 p.m. The Explorers are set to return to National Conference action by hosting Nordonia Sept. 5 at 7 p.m.