It was a sea of pink during Wednesday night’s game.
The Twinsburg girls soccer team chose an unseasonably warm evening to pay tribute to the fight against breast cancer.
The celebration for a very worthy cause was evident as a large crowd attended the festivities at Tiger Stadium.
The celebrating didn’t vanish when the home fans departed.
Let’s just say the party had just begun. That’s because the Tigers are Suburban League National Conference champions for the first time.
Host Twinsburg clinched the outright title with a tense 1-0 victory over Hudson. With the win, the Tigers, who are ranked ninth in Division I in the latest Ohio Scholastic Soccer Coaches Association state poll, improved to 13-0 overall and more importantly, 6-0 in the National Conference.
The Explorers, who have struggled with Twinsburg in recent years, dropped to 9-4 overall and 4-2 in the conference.
The Tigers have one conference game left on their schedule. However, since Wadsworth has one loss and one tie, Twinsburg can claim its first championship since 2014 all to itself.
"It was a huge crowd, which was great for a Wednesday night soccer game," Tigers head coach John Garber said. "The school went to great lengths to promote this game. There were a lot of faculty members and administrators there."
Twinsburg could have clinched the outright conference title with a draw and a win next week against Nordonia at home.
In fact, it seemed very likely that the Tigers may have needed to save their celebration for one more week.
Thanks to a stellar game plan by Hudson, Twinsburg’s attack was neutralized due to the Explorers’ fierce determination to keep the ball out of their own net.
Leading the way for Hudson was junior goalkeeper Lily Morgan, who finished with four saves.
"Lily had an awesome game in goal," Garber said. "She’s a very strong keeper. They (the Explorers) had a great game plan. Their defensive game plan was frustrating."
Fortunately for the Tigers, one of their star attackers finally cracked the Explorers’ highly complicated code.
Allison King got free and scored the game’s only goal with just 33 seconds left. The junior forward found the net with her left foot going left to right.
Morgan dove for the ball, but it went off her fingertips and into the back of the net.
There was pandemonium in the stadium when King delivered her clutch goal. And then the pandemonium was even crazier when the game concluded.
"The students rushed the field," Garber said. "That was kind of cool. That is something they will certainly remember forever."
Hudson didn’t make things too stressful for Twinsburg senior goalkeeper Hannah Zochowski.
That’s because the Explorers were more concerned with neutralizing the Tigers’ high-powered attack.
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," said Explorers head coach and former Twinsburg head coach Chris Gentille. "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."
The Tigers had a 5-3 advantage in shots on goal and a 5-2 edge in corner kicks.
The Twinsburg players certainly appreciated their fabulous accomplishment. Nonetheless, this is only the first step.
The Tigers, who feature 13 seniors and have dealt with some injuries to key players, have more worlds to conquer.
One of those goals is getting back to the district title game. Powerful Walsh Jesuit put an end to Twinsburg’s promising 2017 season with a convincing 4-0 win.
"Our motto is family," Garber said. "We’ve mentioned that term quite often. The strength of the team comes from every player.
"We’ve had some personal hardships. It’s a way to stay connected. What has been remarkable is that it’s next man up. The girls have come in when players went down and have not missed a beat. "
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, firstname.lastname@example.org or @FrankAceto_RPC.