STOW — Her team was overwhelmed in every way imaginable.
Nevertheless, forgive Sam Seigferth if she’s not particularly interested in the bottom line.
"It feels like a win," the Stow-Munroe Falls head field hockey coach said. "You have to celebrate those small wins. That keeps them going and it keeps spirits high."
First, the bad news.
Siegferth’s Bulldogs were completely dominated by a perennial state power that makes its home just 15 minutes away from Graham Road.
Host Stow lost to 2019 state runner-up and reigning Northeast Ohio Field Hockey League champion Hudson 9-1 Tuesday at Bulldog Stadium.
The good news?
The Bulldogs scored their first goal against the mighty Explorers in four years. Stow was awarded a penalty stroke with a little more than 90 seconds left. Sophomore midfielder/forward Emily Owens made the most of her opportunity by burying a shot into the right corner of the goal.
Yes, it took place when the outcome was clearly decided. As of matter of fact, the outcome had been decided long before the penalty stroke took place.
However, Siegferth is trying to build a team from the ground up. Any victory, no matter how minimal or insignificant it may seem to some, is a beautiful thing for the unfailingly positively-thinking Stow coach.
"They did not give up," Siegferth said. "For them to come back with two minutes left and work it down here, get a shot on goal and get the penalty stroke, that was awesome. I’m really proud of them."
The rest of the match, on the other hand, wasn’t nearly as jovial for the overmatched Bulldogs.
The Explorers (3-1, 3-0) looked every bit like a team that has its sights set playing on the last day of the season. As for Stow, the message might be "slowly but surely" after the humbling defeat.
"Our season was stacked high in the beginning with Shaker [Heights], HB [Hathaway Brown] and Hudson," Siegerth said. "That was tough to play those teams right away.
"We’re making improvements each game. Where some teams might lose and give up, we are not doing that. They’re really trying to do everything that they can to improve every game."
Of course, it’s hard to make progress when you rarely have the ball.
Despite the Bulldogs’ persistence in clogging the middle of their circle with a plethora of defenders, Hudson scored three goals in the first nine minutes.
The Explorers eventually took complete control in the second half to invoke the running-clock rule.
The biggest beneficiary of Hudson’s onslaught was senior forward Reilly Timko, who was the team’s backup goalie last year.
Timko scored four times in the second half to put the contest completely out of reach.
Hanna Killeen added two goals and an assist and Reese Stiller had a goal and an assist. Kaci Ramlow and Jamison Cart also scored for the Explorers, who had a commanding 32-2 advantage in shots on goal and a 13-0 edge in penalty corners.
Marita Johnson, Morgan Lindow and Katie Moloney each had one assist for Hudson.
Goaltender Sadie Mrakuzic made two saves between the pipes for the Explorers. Stow goalie Audrey Jones, who was under siege throughout the match, stopped 30 shots. Several of those saves came on shots from point-blank range.
Siegferth knows her team still has a long way to go before it can come close to matching the reputation of its longtime rival. At the same time, though, she knows the smaller victories can go a long way in terms of morale.
Perhaps the Bulldogs may want to consider former soccer legend Mia Hamm’s advice: "Take your victories, whatever they may be, cherish them, use them, but don’t settle for them."
"Our five seniors are doing a really good job," Siegferth said. "The energy this year has been really different than it has been in the past. After our Hilliard game [a 1-0 loss], the officials said it was the best on-field team communication they’ve ever heard. That was a great compliment from the refs."
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, firstname.lastname@example.org or @FrankAceto_RPC.