HUDSON — Stow-Munroe Falls head girls soccer coach Jim Dudones said he downplayed any thought of a rivalry game as his team headed to Hudson Wednesday.
"Every win has been big for us this year," Dudones said. "Especially every win in the conference."
Another aspect to the game was this fact: Stow captain Jane Freeman said no one in the program could remember the last time it had beaten the Explorers.
For the first 60 minutes of the game at Hudson Memorial Stadium, history seemed to be repeating itself. Although both teams had chances, Hudson had a two-goal lead and seemed to be in control.
In the span of two minutes, however, Stow turned the game — and history — on its head.
The Bulldogs pumped home three goals in two minutes and went on to score a 3-2 win over the Explorers. The on-field celebrations after the game showed the victory still meant a lot to Stow’s players.
The Bulldogs improved to 9-4 overall and 4-1 in the Suburban League National Conference. The victory kept Stow’s conference title hopes alive with two games left to play. Hudson dropped to 4-6-2 overall and 2-3-1 in the National Conference.
Dudones said a bit of tactical switching sparked Stow’s goal outburst, as he moved Freeman to the attacking midfield role and put freshman Kayley Hobart up top.
"We just started moving stuff around because we hadn’t scored in a while," Dudones said. "The girls played very well up front."
Meanwhile, Hudson head coach Chris Gentille could only lament his team’s two-minute lapse of concentration.
"We lost focus," he said. "You lose the game in a two-minute span. We’re up to 2-0 and have the game in hand, then something like that happens. That’s what happens when you lose focus.
"We played a strong first half. We played a good 70 minutes. It’s just that one point that killed us."
There was no sign the Explorers were in for any calamity in the first half, as Hudson took the early lead.
Off a corner kick in the seventh minute, Explorers’ defender Kali Sweet sent a ball into the six-yard box, which forward Ally Campanella headed home across the face of the goal.
Although both teams had chances in the first half, Hudson’s lead never looked to be in doubt. The Explorers finished with an 8-7 edge in shots on goal.
Up 1-0 at the half, Hudson endured some early pressure from the Bulldogs in the second half and then looked to have seized command of the contest in the 55th minute.
Explorers’ forward Tori Liesen was able to get to a loose ball in the box. She worked through a crowd of defenders before putting home a rocket past Stow goalkeeper Taylor Galioto.
Galioto finished with six saves on the night.
Hudson seemed to be in cruise control after their second goal. However, in the 61st minute, the Bulldogs’ spurt began.
After Stow had just missed on several chances, junior Krista McDowell got the ball just inside the Explorers’ box. McDowell volleyed a high shot towards the net, which went just over Hudson goalie Mackenzie Pierce and in.
"Krista works a lot on those high crosses," Freeman said. "Sometimes, she shoots that way and sometimes they go in."
"Krista goal really seemed to light a fire under us," Dudones said.
Indeed, Freeman noted the Bulldogs felt the need to charge forward on the ensuing kickoff. The move worked as Freeman stole the ball and fed Hobart slicing toward the net. Hobart’s shot beat Pierce, tying the game at 2-2 less than 30 seconds after McDowell’s goal.
"Giving up one goal, that’s going to happen," Gentille said. "After the second goal went in, you could feel the wind come out of our sails."
Unfortunately for Hudson, there was one more blow to come.
With Hobart and Freeman charging forward in the 63rd minute, Pierce left her line to try to prevent a breakaway attempt. The Explorers were able to fend off the initial attack, but the ball ricocheted wide to Stow captain Madi Marino.
Marino hit the ball into the open net before Pierce was able to get back to her line.
Hudson attempted to rebound to the outburst, but the Explorers were unable to get a clear-cut chance in the final 15 minutes of the game. The Bulldogs’ pressure allowed them to stay in Hudson’s end for most of the final five minutes and kill the clock off.
"It’s a learning experience for our team, but we should never have been in this position," Gentille said.
Reporter Michael Leonard can be reached at 330-541-9442, firstname.lastname@example.org or @MLeonard_GHO.