HUDSON — For Nordonia boys soccer, this fall is about climbing the mountain that is the Suburban League National Conference.
Hudson boys soccer, of course, is used to being at or near the summit of that mountain — and as Knights coach Jason Stepp noted, Nordonia has never beaten Hudson in boys soccer.
That drought continued for the Knights, but Hudson was made to work for the win, as a couple of late goals secured a 3-0 win for the Explorers Sept. 5 at Hudson Memorial Stadium.
Hudson, which was coming off a 2-0 loss to Medina Sept. 2, improved to 3-3, 2-0 in the National Conference, while Nordonia fell to 2-3, 0-2 in the National Conference. Nordonia was coming off a 3-2 win at Grafton Midview Sept. 2.
Hudson coach Steve Knapp said he wanted to see more from his team, especially early on.
"I think that we sat back too much," Knapp said. "As soon as we started pressing their forwards, good things happened. We were getting turnovers and they were happening in the middle third of the field.
"We didn’t play our best game tonight," he added. "Nordonia is a much improved team from last year. I don’t want to take anything away from them."
Stepp said his team ran out of gas in the final 20 minutes.
"I think our depth continues to be an issue," Stepp said. "We don’t have guys that can come off the bench and change the tempo for us. I ended with four guys who picked up a knock late."
Early on, the game turned into a battle between Hudson’s possession game and Nordonia’s high pressure. While the Explorers had the majority of the ball, the Knights caused some havoc and kept scoring chances at a premium for both teams.
After spurning a few scoring chances, Hudson broke through in the 30th minute.
After several short passes at the top of the Knights’ box, the ball deflected off a Nordonia defender and right to Hudson midfielder Sebastian Kreiss. Kreiss took a touch into the box before toe poking into the low right corner of the net to make it 1-0.
Hudson had a large possession edge in the first half, but the Knights had their moments. Hudson goaltender Conner Gynn had to intervene several times to punch away or catch crosses into his box.
Nordonia nearly made it 1-1 early in the second half, when a cross into the box let Knights forward Aundre Hildreth run in on net. However, Hildreth was unable to get a touch on the ball.
"The bottom line is, we’ve got to have guys who can finish the ball," Stepp said. "If it’s 1-1, it’s a whole different ballgame."
Indeed, the rest of the second half belonged to the Explorers, as Hudson finished with a 9-1 edge in shots on goal, including 7-0 in the second half.
The Knights defended well until Hudson found the second goal in the 62nd minute.
Kreiss was able to feed a ball to sophomore forward Skanda Moorthy. Moorthy ran nearly to the end line and put a shot on goal from a tight angle. The ball bounced off the underside of the crossbar and into the goal, giving Knights goaltender Nate Dudak no chance.
Dudak finished with five saves on the night, but could nothing to stop Hudson from administering the knockout blow in the 68th minute.
Hudson forward Dominic Ionno sent a perfect through ball behind the Knights’ defense, allowing Kreiss to run onto it. Kreiss put a lot shot Past Dudak to make it 3-0.
Hudson finished with a 7-1 edge in corner kicks. Explorer goaltender Connor Gynn needed to make only one save to preserve the shutout.
Hudson will welcome Worthington Kilbourne to Memorial Stadium Sept. 9 at 3 p.m. before traveling to North Royalton Sept. 12 at 7 p.m.
Meanwhile, travels to Eastlake North Sept. 7 before hosting Stow-Munroe Falls Sept. 12. Kickoff for both games is at 7 p.m.