HUDSON — Several factors — proximity, winning records and the presence of coach Chris Gentille — ensure that Hudson and Twinsburg girls soccer will be rivals.
After the two teams tied 0-0 during the regular season, they met again Monday with a trip to the district final on the line.
Twinsburg made history on a wet and windy night at Hudson Memorial Stadium as a 1-0 win over the Explorers sent the Tigers to the first Division I girls soccer district final in school history.
Twinsburg improved to 11-4-3 and advanced to the Division I district final Thursday vs. Walsh Jesuit at a venue to be determined. Hudson finished the season at 11-4-3.
The driving rain couldn’t wipe the smile off the face of Twinsburg coach John Garber, whose team reached the Hudson game after beating Aurora 2-1 last Thursday.
"First time in program history. What a brilliant night," Garber said. "In the Aurora game we were able build from the middle. With both teams, that was hard to do tonight. Our halftime adjustment was that we didn’t want our forwards to leave. We found our game at times."
Junior forward McKenna Donahue was the hero for Twinsburg as she headed home the game’s lone goal in the 69th minute.
"I just saw the perfect pass from Alyssa (Troyer)," Donahue said. "It was a great play."
Both Troyer and Donuhue noted playing against Gentille — who coached the Tigers’ juniors and seniors two years ago — provided some extra motivation.
For his part, Gentille tipped his hat to the Tigers.
"They played a good game and we played a good game," Gentille said. "It’s nice to see them win. I’m happy for the program. If we were the ones who weren’t going to make it to the district final, I’m glad it’s them."
Gentille said his team did not take advantage of its scoring chances.
"We didn’t take advantage of the wind in the second half the way we should have," Gentille said. "It just wasn’t our night."
Twinsburg had the wind at its back in the first half, but a slick pitch and constant rain made both teams play much more direct than usual.
Garber complimented Hudson goalie Lily Morgan for making some quality saves. Morgan finished with eight saves on the night, while Twinsburg goaltender Ally Zenda had five saves.
"She was able to hold onto the ball, which on a night like tonight is difficult," Garber said.
With the match tied 0-0 at halftime, Hudson’s best chance may have come in the 43rd minute, when a ball across the six-yard box. No one was able to get a touch on the ball, however.
Hudson was made to rue its missed chances.
Twinsburg was able to start putting passes together around the 60th minute, which resulted in several chances and corner kicks.
In the 68th minute, the moment came for the Tigers.
Troyer was able to control the ball near the left sideline before sending a cross towards the penalty spot.
Donahue, who had been denied by Morgan on a couple of occasions, flicked a backwards header on net before Morgan could respond to make it 1-0.
Hudson attempted to press the action and find the equalizer, but wasn’t able to get a dangerous shot off against Zenda in the final 10 minutes.
Twinsburg finished with a 9-5 edge in shots on goal and a 6-4 edge in corner kicks.
Having already made school history, Garber said he was looking forward to playing Walsh, which is the five-time defending state champion.
"We’ll just have a good week of training and be ready for anything," Garber said.
What does a chance at Walsh mean to the Tiger players?
"Everything," Donahue said.