BROADVIEW HEIGHTS — When the two teams met in August, the Hudson boys soccer team controlled every aspect of the game against Brecksville-Broadview Heights.
But there was one problem.
The Bees had the edge on the scoreboard.
As a result, Brecksville eventually claimed the Suburban League National Conference title.
The Explorers got another crack at the Bees in part two of the 2018 season.
This time, Hudson controlled everything, including the scoreboard.
The Explorers advanced to a district title game for the fifth consecutive year after earning a 3-1 victory over host Brecksville. The Solon Division I semifinal contest took place Wednesday.
With the win, fourth-seeded Hudson earned a date with second-seeded Stow-Munroe Falls in the district final. The Bulldogs, who settled for a 0-0 draw with the Explorers during the regular season, advanced with a 3-0 win over third-seeded Solon.
The district final is set to take place Saturday at Nordonia High School’s Boliantz Stadium in Macedonia. Play is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.
When the two teams butted heads in their previous encounter, the Bees, who were the top seed in the district, earned a 3-2 win. Hudson (11-6-2) fell short despite having a 12-4 advantage in shots on goal and a 9-2 edge in corner kicks.
Wednesday’s outcome was similar as the Explorers controlled possession a majority of the way. However, Hudson, which was in attack mode the entire game, jumped out to a 3-0 lead and didn’t look back.
"The first time we had a little better run of play, but they did what was most important, which was score the three goals," Explorers head coach Steve Knapp said. "They deserved that first game. We knew the second time around that we were able to play with them."
Hudson got its first goal in the 29th minute.
Freshman midfielder Sean Durkin sent a free kick into Brecksville’s box that made contact with a Bees’ defender. The ball landed near the feet of Peyton Koscho and the junior center back poked it in for a 1-0 lead.
The second half belonged to Josh Rosenzweig.
The senior right wing made it 2-0 when he found the net after receiving a pass from sophomore midfielder Ben Hallis not long after a corner kick. That goal took place in the 58th minute.
Rosenzweig sealed the deal for the Explorers nearly six minutes later.
Off another corner kick, the ball was deflected to sophomore forward Caleb Junko, who kicked the ball in the air.
Not far from it was Rosenzweig, who headed the ball into the net for a practically insurmountable 3-0 lead.
"In the beginning of the season, Josh was playing right back," Knapp said. "Now, he has really solidified himself at the right-winger position. He’s fast; he’s tenacious; he’s opportunistic."
For much of the way, Hudson’s playmakers forced the Bees (10-3-5) to chase them, thanks to their stellar passing.
The Explorers also were more aggressive on 50/50 balls and they had a knack for getting into Brecksville’s passing lanes to force turnovers.
"We stepped nicely," Knapp said. "Our two outside backs (sophomore Braden Ferris on the right and senior Allan Gutierrez on the left) played really well. Our center backs (Koscho and senior Trey Kaminski) just kind of cleaned everything up.
"We were able to actually initiate possession from our backs. That has always been a goal of ours is to be able to step and initiate the offense through our midfielder up top."
The only minor bump in Hudson’s resounding win took place in the final seconds.
Bees’ senior forward Matt Sendrey briefly prevented the Explorers’ celebration with a goal at the 18-second mark.
Seeing a number on the scoreboard for the home team wasn’t exactly eye candy for Knapp.
"We should have been able to be smarter on the ball," he said. "We should have been able to clear that ball and be a little bit stronger.
"I just don’t like having that be the last thing that happened. We always have a goal of preserving a shutout."
Nonetheless, the game was a thing of beauty for Hudson, which had a convincing 13-3 advantage in shots on goal and a 4-2 edge in corner kicks.
Explorers’ senior goalkeeper Tyler Venti made five saves in the nets and Bees’ senior goalie Zach Bahr finished with 10 stops.
"We know we’re playing really good soccer right now," Knapp said. "The second half of our season was totally different than our first half of the season. We really figured things out and we’re confident."
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, email@example.com or @FrankAceto_RPC.