HUDSON — For Hudson boys soccer, the mission was simple.
Get a win or draw Tuesday at Hudson Memorial Stadium vs. Wadsworth and the Explorers would repeat as Suburban League National Conference champions.
Unfortunately for Hudson, Wadsworth was chasing history and chased down the conference title. The Grizzlies got the game’s lone goal in the 59th minute to score a 1-0 win over the Explorers.
Wadsworth moved to 12-1-2 overall and finished 6-1 in the National Conference, claiming its first outright league title in boys soccer since 1993. Hudson moved to 8-5-2, 5-1-1 in the National Conference.
Hudson coach Steve Knapp paid tribute to Wadsworth, noting the physical nature of the game got to the Explorers in the second half.
"They are a little bit more senior heavy," Knapp said. "Youth did not help us tonight. They were stronger and they just had that experience."
Wadsworth coach John Johnson credited his team for its execution, but also lauded Hudson for playing aggressive soccer.
"This is the first time all season we were in a must-win situation. They were not," Johnson said. "I would be been tempted to sit back in a 5-4-1 [formation] in their position. They did not sit back."
Indeed, Hudson was able to work their possession game for long periods of the first half.
"In the first half, I thought we did great," Knapp said.
However, Hudson goalie Connor Gynn and Wadsworth keeper Tyler Randolph each made one solid save to keep it at 0-0 at the half. Wadsworth may have had the best chance in the first half, but Andrew Robinson’s shot in the 20th minute bounced off the post.
Wadsworth took command of the game in the first 20 minutes of the second half. Johnson told his center backs to shut down Hudson’s outside attackers.
The result was a ton of forward pressure for the Grizzlies, who earned five corner kicks in the second half.
"They came out hard and we just seemed not ready for it," Knapp said.
The pressure helped force a bad pass from Hudson’s defense that set up the goal.
In the 59th minute, Wadsworth sophomore David Chriumbole stole a pass and made a pair of nice moves to get around Explorer defenders. He then fired a shot top lower right corner of the goal for his third goal of the season.
Hudson pressed hard for the equalizer, but the Grizzlies defended with lot of the numbers in the last 20 minutes, limiting any space Hudson could get in the attacking third.
Wadsworth finished with a 9-2 edge in shots on goal. Gynn made seven saves on the night.
"It feels great to get over the hump," Johnson said. "We needed this."
"It’s the postseason that matters to us," Knapp said. "You can see it our guys faces that they wanted this, but the playoffs is the most important thing."
Hudson will close out the regular season by hosting Copley Saturday at 3 p.m.
There was good news for Hudson regarding the postseason, as the Explorers were given the No. 1 seed in the Division I Kent district tournament Sunday. Hudson received a first-round bye and will play the winner of the Nordonia-Kenston match next Saturday at 7 p.m.