It is never smart to concede the first goal in soccer, but so far this season, the Stow-Munroe Falls girls squad has made a habit of come-from-behind wins.
So perhaps it was a bit of karmic comeback when Stow got hit with a dose of its own medicine Saturday when it hosted Green at the Stow Soccer Stadium.
However, this Battle of the Bulldogs could prove more costly than simply being Stow’s first loss of the year.
After taking an early 2-0 lead, Stow saw Green rally to tie the match 3-3 at the half and then go on to win 4-3. However, of greater concern to Stow was the loss of senior forward Jane Freeman to an ankle injury just before halftime.
Stow dropped to 3-1 on the season, while Green improved to 3-0-1.
Dudones said after such a loss, the big thing was for his team is to stick together, while acknowledging losing Freeman was big deal.
"It’s human nature to blame others and protect yourself when games like this happen," Dudones said. "We’ve got to work against that. We’ve got to acknowledge that there was a lot of things that went right tonight.
"We need to be better there. There was a letdown," Dudones said of Freeman’s injury. "There’s lots of other reasons we lost tonight. It was part of it, but not the whole reason."
Part of the reason why Freeman’s loss hit Stow so hard was she was having a terrific game before the injury.
In the fifth minute, Green gifted Stow a chance when Freeman intercepted a back pass, got into the box and fired a shot past Green goalkeeper Lilly Jakuszewski to make it 1-0.
Four minutes later, Freeman doubled Stow’s advantage. After she earned the ball on the right wing, Freeman launched a high shot that flew over Jakuszweski and into the net to make 2-0.
"She’s a monster," Dudones said of Freeman.
However, Stow’s early momentum faded due to some defensive mistakes. In the 16th minute, a crossing ball bounced off the palms of Stow goaltender Taylor Gailoto. Green forward Brook Fieldson got to the loose ball first and put it into the open net to make it 2-1.
Another poor pass by Green’s defense allowed Stow to regain its two-goal lead in the 24th minute. This time, sophomore Haley McKnight stole the ball and put a perfect shot into the upper left corner of the net to make it 3-2.
Just a minute later, Green answered as Galioto appeared to be screened by a Stow defender when Fieldson put the ball into the net at point-blank range.
After two scruffy goals, Green’s strike to tie the match in the 30th minute was a thing of beauty. Green winger Zoe Dellaserra made a brillaint run to the end line down the right side of the field. Dellaserra crossed the ball to the back post and Fieldson got her hat trick by volleying the ball into the net.
In the 33rd minute, Freeman went down after competing for a ball in the air. She was in visible pain as she said she rolled her ankle and spent much of the rest of the game with ice on her left foot.
With its captain hobbled and the game tied at 3-3 at the half, Stow’s energy level was down in the second half. Dudones noted Green had a lot to do with it, as Green amped up their ball pressure after halftime.
"I think they did a very good just in the second half," Dudones said of Green. "They came after us hard and made things very difficult for us."
Green finished with a 10-6 edge in shots on goal, including a 4-1 edge in the second half.
After a sustained period of pressure, Green got the game-winner on a beautiful goal in the 62nd minute. After fighting for the ball with the Stow defense, Green midfielder Faith Estes found some space outside the penalty box and launched a shot that went just over Galioto’s outstretched arm and just under the crossbar.
Stow attempted to press for a tying goal, but Green did an effective job killing the clock in the last 10 minutes.
Stow will take on North Royalton on the road Wednesday at 7 p.m. before hosting Coventry Thursday at 7 p.m.
Reporter Michael Leonard can be reached at 330-541-9442, firstname.lastname@example.org or @MLeonard_GHO