A draw probably wouldn’t have done much good.
And a loss would have settled all matters.
So, if the Hudson girls soccer team had any hope of getting a piece of the Suburban League National Conference title, Wednesday’s game was an absolute must-win situation.
Alas for the Explorers, they lost in devastating fashion.
Thanks to a goal in the final minute, Hudson was eliminated from the National-Conference title picture after falling to host Twinsburg 1-0 at Tiger Stadium.
With the win, the Tigers, who were ranked ninth in the Division I standings in a recent Ohio Scholastic Soccer Coaches Association state poll, clinched the outright title.
Twinsburg improved to 13-0 overall and 6-0 in the National Conference with one conference game remaining.
The Explorers dropped to 9-4 overall and 4-2 in the conference. Twinsburg sealed Hudson’s fate when junior forward Allison King scored the lone goal with 33 seconds left.
"We played well," said Explorers head coach Chris Gentille, who was the Tigers head coach prior to joining Hudson. "We put together a nice game plan and it worked out until the end. We gave up a tough shot."
King scored the goal with her left foot going left to right. Explorers junior goalkeeper Lily Morgan dove for the ball, but it went right off her fingertips and into the back of the net. Morgan finished with four saves.
"Lily had an awesome game in goal," Tigers head coach John Garber said. "She’s a very strong keeper. They (the Explorers) had a great game plan. Their defensive game plan was frustrating."
Gentille also had high praise for Morgan, as she kept Hudson in the game with her acrobatics.
"Lily played a great game all night," Gentille said. "She (King) just put a shot in a difficult position.
"We had some chances. We had some free sets that we didn’t capitalize on. We didn’t put many good looks on frame."
On this night, the Explorers were more concerned with neutralizing Twinsburg’s high-powered attack.
In order to do that, Hudson’s defense had to do whatever it could to bother King and senior forward McKenna Donahue, who have combined to score more than 30 goals this fall.
"We were more concerned with trying to figure out how to stop them," Gentille said. "They’re pretty strong on offense. We kept them in check all game long. We did everything we wanted to do. We just came up a little short."
Twinsburg had a 5-3 advantage in shots on goal and a 5-2 edge in corner kicks.
With the conference title out of reach, the Explorers are now preparing for the postseason. If it can show a similar effort when the games really matter, Hudson won’t be a particularly fun team to play.
"We can play with anybody," Gentille said.
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, firstname.lastname@example.org or @FrankAceto_RPC.