HUDSON — It was an annual occurrence that drew a large number of Hudson residents to one place.
And then the two teams parted ways.
As a result, a longtime rivalry between two schools located just a little more than two miles away from each other was terminated.
However, the rivalry rose from the dead in 2014 when the two squads met again for the first time in more than two decades.
They’ve played each other once a year ever since.
Sadly for one of those teams, its opponent has had the upper hand in four of the five meetings.
In a nutshell, Hudson has owned Western Reserve Academy.
The Explorers earned a 3-0 victory over the host Pioneers Saturday at WRA Stadium. With the win, Hudson improved to 4-5-1. The Pioneers fell to 8-2.
Senior forward Ryan Sarkisian scored on two free kicks in the second half and junior forward Graham Alvarez added a goal in the final 30 seconds.
The two teams played to a 1-1 draw when they renewed acquaintances in 2014. Since then, the Explorers have been the better side.
So has the rivalry lost some of its luster? Fourth-year Hudson head coach Steve Knapp thinks so.
"There's not a lot of the boys that they know," Knapp said. "There's a couple guys that they saw in the Hudson United days, so they haven't seen each other in a long time.
"I think it is a rivalry because of proximity. We can get a nice fan base. We call it a rivalry. Maybe it was. It was a little chippy out there."
There were numerous fouls called during the game and Reserve was issued both a red card and a yellow card.
In the long run, though, WRA faces this harsh reality when it takes on the team that calls Hudson Aurora Road home: Hudson is a much bigger school.
"From purely a numbers' standpoint, it's one of the challenges," longtime head Pioneers head coach and former player Herb Haller said. "I know the history behind it, having been a part of it. They're a much bigger school. They have more players from which to choose.
"It's not why we play this game. It's more because we want the competition. Hopefully, for everybody who came out to watch it, it's a chance to see some pretty good soccer from two good programs."
As for Knapp and his players, this particular contest against their neighbors may have been a little less significant because of poor timing.
The Explorers have a date with archrival Stow-Munroe Falls in a Suburban League National Conference showdown, which is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday at Hudson Memorial Stadium.
"We know we have a huge game with Stow," Knapp said. "We're trying to work some things out and I think we did. It's hard to get up big time when you have two rivalry games in a row."
Since Hudson’s main focus is the Bulldogs, the contest with Reserve could actually be labeled what coaches refer to as a "trap" game.
Nonetheless, Hudson’s play during the weekends has left a lot to be desired this season.
"It could have been (a trap game), but we haven't done so well on Saturdays," Knapp said. "We really wanted to change that. They had a little bit of motivation."
Haller, on the other hand, would like to continue playing the school he looked forward to seeing every year during his playing days.
Once upon a time, the two teams had extraordinary battles with one another. And there were a number of times when WRA had bragging rights.
"I think it is important," Haller said. "Our team here is filled with kids from Hudson who know many of the kids on the other team. Any time you have kids from the same city on the other side, there's going to be a rivalry of some sort."
Even though his team has not solved the Explorers in recent years, Haller would prefer not to diminish the significance of the game.
In fact, he would like to see this contest become a must-see for both teams’ fan bases.
"We don't charge admission," Haller said. "Part of our reason for not doing that is we want people to come out and watch.
"I'd rather have all of those stands full and kids on the sidelines and not have people pay seven, eight bucks to go see a high school soccer game."
Prior to Saturday’s contest, the Pioneers had been playing at an extremely high level.
Other than a loss to Berlin Hiland, Reserve had dominated the rest of its opponents.
However, the honeymoon is definitely over for WRA, according to Haller. Saturday was the first step for his players to find out just how good they really are.
"We're at a point in the season where we have much more difficult games coming up and this was kind of the starting point," Haller said. "It will make us better. That's part of the reason we try to schedule it.
"I'm happy Steve has been willing to do it the last two years. By the same token, we hope when those guys play us, it’s beneficial for them as well."
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, firstname.lastname@example.org or @FrankAceto_RPC.