CUYAHOGA FALLS — Last year, the Hudson girls soccer team dominated the action most of the way.
However, the Explorers walked away with just a 2-0 victory.
On Tuesday, Hudson dictated play for a majority of the game at Hudson Memorial Stadium.
Once again, the Explorers left with a rather unsatisfying 2-0 win.
Regardless, one thing is clear: Cuyahoga Falls, despite a not-so-glittering record, is not the pushover it once was.
Hudson got a goal five-plus minutes into the second half from sophomore forward Ally Campanella and took advantage of an own goal a little more than two minutes later.
With the win, the Explorers improved to 7-3 overall and 3-1 in the Suburban League National Conference.
But Hudson head coach Chris Gentille wasn’t a particularly thrilled man after the game.
"Falls hasn’t been a particularly strong program, but I thought they were very organized and they worked hard from start to finish," he said.
"We didn’t play well, which is frustrating. They get up for certain games and then there are other games where they go through the motions. We’re going to play teams like this in the playoffs, so we have to be ready for every game."
The Black Tigers dropped to 1-7-2 overall and 0-4 in the conference. Falls did have some chances deep in the Explorers’ end, but was unable to convert.
First-year Black Tigers head coach Greg Shoults, who once spent a number of years as an assistant coach and as the head coach for the Hudson boys soccer team, has seen his team make strides throughout the season.
But there is still much learning to do, according to the veteran coach.
"It’s a process," Shoults said. "It’s not going to happen overnight. We’re trying to get organized. It’s coming. They have been asked to play a whole different style that they’re not used to playing.
"The ability and talent is there. It’s about recognizing where to be and reading the game. It’s not like Hudson had more players. Our shape was disorganized and that left people wide open."
The Explorers got on the board with 34 minutes, 30 seconds left in the game.
Senior forward Lexi Muccino got the ball on the left side after a free kick by senior defender Kate Saxer. After she got the ball, Muccino crossed it to the middle of the penalty box.
The ball landed at the left foot of sophomore forward Ally Campanella near the 6-yard line. With one touch, Campanella volleyed the shot into the net past Falls’ junior goalkeeper Rachael Smith.
Hudson scored the next goal on a set piece. Saxer took a free kick from approximately 30 yards away. The kick went near the goal and was inadvertently tipped in by a Black Tiger deep in the box.
The Explorers had a 9-1 edge in shots on goal and an 8-3 edge in corner kicks. Hudson also had numerous shots from close range go over and wide of the goal.
"We outpossessed them, but we didn’t finish our chances," Gentille said. "We did have some girls out, but we still have players who can play."
Hudson was missing junior midfielder Lauren Heidler, who is out for the season with a knee injury, sophomore defender Kali Sweet (knee) and senior midfielder Anna Campanella (concussion). Gentille is hoping Sweet and Campanella return to the field soon.
Smith and junior Sydney Knepper, who played briefly in the second half, combined for eight saves for Falls.
The Black Tigers also had some injury issues.
Junior Kaylie Ward, a center midfielder, suffered an ankle injury right as the first half ended, and senior Madison Walters also was inadvertently hit in the face.
"They’ve made great strides," Shoults said. "One coach said this is the best Cuyahoga Falls team his team played. We’ve received other positive comments.
"I told the players that I’ve never had a losing record as a coach. We’re not measuring this season on wins or losses. We’re measuring how we develop as a team."
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, firstname.lastname@example.org or @FrankAceto_RPC.