HUDSON — So far this season, fortunes have differed for the Hudson and Stow-Munroe Falls girls soccer teams.
Hudson controls its own destiny in the Suburban League National Conference, while Stow has hovered around the .500 mark.
As Explorers coach Chris Gentille noted, however, records mean little when its Stow vs. Hudson.
The Explorers took an early lead and had to hang on for a 2-1 win over Stow Wedensday at Hudson Memorial Stadium. Hudson moved to 8-2-1, 4-0-1 in the National Conference, while Stow dropped to 6-6, 1-3 in the National Conference.
The game started with an offensive burst as both teams had numerous scoring chances in the first 10 minutes.
"They could have been up 2-0 or we could have been up 3-0 early," Gentille said. "After that, we settled in. I thought we possessed the ball very well tonight and limited their chances.
"At the same time, we have to do a better job finishing our chances," he added. "That’s been the case all season."
Despite the loss, Stow coach Nate Rausch felt that his team’s defense played its best game of the season. Stow was coming off a 4-3 win over Revere Monday at home.
"I’m proud of how we played tonight and how we communicated," Rausch said. "That’s the best our back four has played all year. We settled in a bit after the first 10 minutes."
Stow was robbed three times in the first 10 minutes, thanks to brilliant saves by Hudson goalkeeper Lily Morgan. Morgan finished with three saves on the night, as the Explorers finished with a 6-4 edge in shots on goal.
Hudson, meanwhile, saw several of its shots trickle wide of the net in the first 10 minutes. Stow goalie Ashley Briggs also came up with a big save early, as she was able to sit down on the ball after Hudson forward Jordan Manley tried to nutmeg Briggs.
Briggs finished with four saves.
Hudson got the breakthrough in the 23rd minute on a corner kick. Senior Elena Vuksta sent a ball to the back post. As the Hudson forwards crashed the post, Stow left midfielder Olivia Adkins open and Adkins headed the ball just inside the post to make it 1-0.
Hudson’s possession advantage was shown in a 9-1 advantage in corner kicks.
"We just couldn’t convert those chances," Gentille said.
Up 1-0 at the half, Hudson got its second goal off another corner kick in the 57th minute, though Rausch disputed whether the kick should have been given.
Stow cleared the initial cross, but the ball came back into the box and Hudson’s shot was cleared off the line by Stow’s defense.
However, senior forward Lucy Marshall sent a high shot over the Bulldogs’ defense and into the net to make it 2-0.
"We’ve got to do a better job cleaning up the garbage on corner kicks," Rausch said.
With Hudson’s possession advantage increasing, Stow had to switch tactics in the second half. The Bulldogs did so in the 64th minute and got back in the game, thanks to a goal by speedy freshman Paige Neely.
A through ball from Stow down the right sideline allowed Neely to run behind the Hudson defense. A state champion in track at the middle school level, Neely beat her markers and put the ball past a charging Morgan to make it 2-1.
"When you’re going against a possession team like Hudson, sometimes, you’ve got to go direct," Rausch said. "It worked. Paige deserved that goal. She was so calm with her left foot."
Stow tried to press the issue, but the Bulldogs could find no more offense, as Hudson still had the lion’s share of possession down the stretch.
Hudson was set to travel to Kent Roosevelt Saturday at 7 p.m. The Explorers will host Twinsburg in a pivotal National Conference clash next Wednesday at 5 p.m.
Meanwhile, Stow will host Green Monday at 7 p.m. and Cuyahoga Falls Wednesday at 7 p.m.