STOW — When it’s Stow-Munroe Falls vs. Hudson, the rivalry is hot in any sport.
That said, there’s been particular heat over the years on the soccer field. On Tuesday, the Explorers and Bulldogs added another classic chapter to the rivalry on a summer-like night.
A goal in the 76th minute from Hudson’s Skanda Moorthy gave the Explorers a hard-fought 2-1 win at Bulldog Stadium.
Hudson improved to 6-4-1 overall and remains in first place in the Suburban League National Conference at 4-0-1. Stow dropped to 5-3-4 and 2-2-1 in the National Conference.
Hudson coach Steve Knapp called the contest "a huge win" in the postgame huddle and noted his team’s play warranted a bigger margin of victory.
"I think in the last 30 minutes of the first half, we controlled things and we carried it on into the second half," Knapp said. "We were pressing hard to get that second goal. Unfortunately, it wasn’t going in."
Knapp called Stow goalie Spencer Raymond-Smith "a great shot stopper," as both Raymond-Smith and Hudson goaltender Connor Gynn made several diving stops on the night.
Stow coach Kyle Kosmala lauded his team for battling the entire game, despite losing several players on defense. Stow was coming off a 1-1 draw last Saturday with Firestone, where it lost senior Nyigel Spann to a broken collarbone. Stow lost Caden Hayward and Sam Zito to injuries during the Hudson game.
"Nyigel going down, Caden going down, Sam going down … that made us pretty thin at outside back," Kosmala said. "Tristen Mattson was kind of thrust into that role tonight and he did a great job.
"Unfortunately tonight, we were in a position where we needed three points (via a win)," Kosmala added. "That’s why he had to keep Logan Spath up there (at forward)."
It was end-to-end soccer early on as both teams had scoring chances. Gynn finished with four saves on the night, while Raymond-Smith had six, as Hudson finished with an 8-5 edge in shots on goal.
The breakthrough for Hudson came in the 21st minute when forward Skana Moorthy made a run on the right and sent a dipping shot on goal.
Raymond-Smith made a diving save, as he pushed the ball onto the post. However, Hudson forward Ryan Sarkisian fought through Hayward to get the rebound and put it in the open net to make it 1-0.
"I don’t think either of us had that many chances," Kosmala said. "All three goals tonight came as a result of throwing guys into the box."
Up 1-0 at halftime, Hudson had the lion’s share of possession in the second half, but found their efforts frustrated by the Stow defense in the final third.
Stow had a few opportunities when it had the ball and finally got the equalizer in the 72nd minute.
Stow earned a corner kick, which junior Corey Hunt took, only to have the his cross punched away by Gynn.
However, the ball came back to Hunt, who sent in another cross. This time, Stow captain Mason Hearty was able to flick the ball past an onrushing Gynn, tying the game at 1-1.
"That’s our Achilles heel," Knapp said. "You give a good team enough chances on set pieces and they’re going to take advantage."
"That was a perfect ball," Kosmala said. "Corey took his time."
Both teams pressed to try to get the winning goal late, but Moorthy would be the hero, as he stole the ball in the Stow’s box in the 76th minute.
Moorthy put his shot off the underside of the crossbar and it bounced just over the line to make it 2-1.
Hudson faces a tough pair of road trips this week, as the Explores head to Massillon Jackson Saturday at 7 p.m. before heading to Twinsburg next Tuesday at 7 p.m.
Stow also hits the road this week, traveling to Copley Saturday at 7 p.m. before visiting rival Cuyahoga Falls next Tuesday at 7 p.m.