TWINSBURG — The stage was set for a potential changing of the guard Wednesday at Tiger Stadium.
Twinsburg girls soccer has slumped to a loss and a draw in its previous two Suburban League National Conference games. Meanwhile, Stow came into contest undefeated in the National Conference, knowing a victory over the Tigers would clear a path towards the conference.
The Bulldogs came into Wednesday’s game on the back of a 2-1 home win over Revere Monday and seemed to primed to challenge the defending champions.
Within the game’s first 15 minutes, however, Tigers put any thoughts of Stow winning to rest.
Twinsburg scored three goals in the first 15 minutes and cruised to a 6-0 win over the Bulldogs. Twinsburg kept their National Conference title hopes alive, improving to 10-1-1, 3-1-1 in the National Conference.
Stow fell to 8-4, 3-1 in the National Conference.
After seeing his team’s offense sputter in recent games. Twinsburg coach John Garber was happy to see his team hit on all cylinders.
"We just had one of our best week’s of practice with an emphasis on finishing," Garber said. "We really showed it tonight."
Stow coach Jim Dudones could do little but praise the Tigers.
"The thing is that’s a very good team," Dudones said of the Tigers. "It isn’t as if we lost to some Podunk team in the middle of nowhere. The hard truth is it wasn’t a good night for us at all. Everyone has to ask what we can do to make this team better."
Twinsburg took the lead in the sixth minute when senior captain Amy Hawersaat hit what has become her trademark. Lining up a free kick about 45 yards out from goal, Hawersaat launched a perfect high shot that flew in just under the crossbar to make it 1-0.
"Amy set the tone," Garber said. "She’s goat about four goals from restarts this year. Anytime you put a little dip or curve on the ball, it’s hard for goalies."
Garber and Dudones both noted neither team had overwhelming possession in the first half, but Twinsburg was lethal in front of goal, getting four goals off six shots on net.
Two of those came in rapid succession. In the 13th minute, senior Kaela Turle snagged a pass from freshman Jaydn Harris and put it home at close range.
A minute later, senior Allison King made a long run town the left side and pumped a low shot past Stow goalie Taylor Galioto.
Galioto finished with four saves on the night, as Twinsburg finished with an 11-2 edge in shots on goal.
Twinsburg’s Gillian Votlz got the last goal of the first half on a hustle play. In the 38th minute, Voltz stole the ball off a Stow defender and hit a high shot into the net.
"We had some mistakes in the first half and they took advantage," Dudones said. "We’ve got to a better job controlling what we can control."
Up 4-0 at the half, Twinsburg kept coming, despite rotating its bench players in.
In the 44th minute, midfielder Lana Furniss made a run through the heart of the Bulldogs’ defense and pumped a high shot into the net to make it 5-0.
Stow predicament got worse in the 49th minute when senior captain Jane Freeman was hit with her second yellow card of the night, earning her a red card and dropping Stow to 10 players.
Twinsburg reserve forward Akira Johnson capped the scoring in the 62 minute when she was cut down in the penalty box. Johnson took the penalty kick herself and smashed a lot shot into the net.
Stow was set to play Hudson Wednesday at 7 p.m. while Twinsburg was set to travel to Massillon Jackson Saturday at 7 p.m. before hosting Wadsworth Wednesday at 7 p.m.
Reporter Michael Leonard can be reached at 330-541-9442, email@example.com or @MLeonard_GHO