CUYAHOGA FALLS — It was a tale of two distinct moods on the pitch Wednesday evening.

Cuyahoga Falls head girls soccer coach Scot Etling couldn't have been more thrilled with his team's performance.

Hudson head girls soccer coach Chris Gentille, on the other hand, couldn't have been more troubled by his team's performance.

It would be easy to tell which side won, right?

Not necessarily — unless, of course, you know the history between the two teams.

In this case, it was certainly an admirable effort for the Lady Black Tigers against a perennial bully.

They made the Lady Explorers uncomfortable and at times, they were able to frustrate Hudson's high-powered offensive attack.

In the end, though, Falls still has a long way to go to match its talented rival's prestigious track record.

But it was certainly a good start.

The Lady Explorers earned a 2-0 victory over the host Lady Black Tigers at Laybourne Field.

With the win, Hudson, which has handily defeated its rivals to the south for what seems like eons, improved to 7-2-1 overall and 3-0-1 in the Suburban League National Conference.

While this certainly qualified as a moral victory for Falls, there was no doubt which side was the more skilled and athletic team.

The Lady Explorers controlled the tempo for much of the evening.

They spent almost an eternity attacking the Lady Black Tigers' goal with their plethora of playmakers.

However, Falls' defense stood tall a majority of the way.

Hudson got a couple shots to sneak past the line, but overall, the Lady Black Tigers' defense was doggedly determined to not let its more talented opponents get open shots inside its box.

"We have 36 kids and out of those 36, 19 are hurt," Etling said. "Five of them are out for the season. We're playing with a lot of pieces and parts. We just told the kids who are playing for us to do their best."

They certainly did.

As for the Lady Explorers, who also suffered a convincing 4-0 defeat to perennial powerhouse Massillon Jackson Monday at Hudson Memorial Stadium, it was not their best performance by a long shot.

"We're just not playing very well right now," Gentille said. "We're not doing the things that we were doing at the beginning of the year. They [the Lady Black Tigers] played the offsides' trap on us and they did a fine job."

Hudson got both of its goals in a span of five minutes in the first half.

Playing on a soggy field where the ball had a tendency to come to a complete stop after a brief skid on the grass, the Lady Explorers got on the board nearly 13 minutes into the game.

Junior forward Jordan Manley got free in the middle of the box before sending a pass to the left side.

The ball found senior forward Lucy Marshall, who took a few dribbles and buried a low ground ball into the right corner of the net with the outside of her right foot.

Hudson struck again a little more than five minutes later.

Junior forward Lexi Muccino passed the ball to junior midfielder Anna Campanella, who finished to make it 2-0.

Although the Lady Explorers constantly threatened, they couldn't get another ball into the net.

Sometimes, they had bad luck.

A couple of Hudson shots found the crossbar and a few shots were just inches wides of the goal.

And of course, there also was Falls' resilient defense.

Led by senior goalkeeper Erin Huber and freshman center back Jenai Blake, the Lady Black Tigers (1-9, 0-4) denied a number of the Lady Explorers' scoring opportunities from point-blank range.

"Erin shattered her ankle last year," Etling said. "To be honest, she shouldn't be walking. Jenai and [sophomore forward] Katlin Wilson give us some speed."

Huber finished with a number of saves, including several stops where she had to stretch her body way beyond her limits to keep the ball from going past her.

Hudson had a 10-0 advantage in shots on goal and a 5-0 edge in corner kicks.

"We tried to just play in their half," Gentille said. "They did what they tried to do and hoped to get one counter on us.

"We're in a funk right now. In the Jackson game, we gave up three goals inside the six. We had some bad mental mistakes.

"We're having a hard time moving the ball. We better fix some things or it's going to come back to haunt us."

The Lady Explorers are scheduled to host National Conference foe Stow-Munroe Falls Sept. 27 at 5 p.m.

Falls is set to visit Warren G. Harding Sept. 25 before returning to Laybourne to play conference rival Nordonia Sept. 27. Both contests are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.

"It's a step forward for this game," Etling said. "The focus has to remain in the rest of our games. We'll take this as a moral victory into the enxt game and so on."


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