HUDSON — He doesn’t answer to just his first or last name like Ronadinho or Maradona.
However, when it comes to how he plays, one word usually comes to mind when Hudson head boys soccer coach Steve Knapp describes a certain teenager.
With apologies to legendary fútbol coach José Mourinho, the Explorers’ “Special One” is a junior who has a doctorate in cardiovascular exercise.
He is a Ben Hallis, Hudson’s do-everything center midfielder who has been a fixture in the starting lineup ever since he first wore a blue and white jersey.
High school soccer games usually take a little less than two hours to complete. If Hallis had his way, he might be tempted to turn every match into an ultramarathon.
“He’s the fittest kid,” Knapp said. “He’s the most skilled player we have. He’s just an engine.
“He gets mad when I take him out. He could still be playing out there. He just loves the game. He’s the kid that you’ll see working on skills every second of his free time."
Pardon Hallis if he may be forced to take a break from fine-tuning his game. That’s because he and his teammates are working overtime once again.
Hudson advanced to its eighth consecutive district final after cruising past Twinsburg 4-1 Wednesday at Hudson Memorial Stadium.
Hallis gave his team a 2-0 lead when he received a pass from Skanda Moorthy and then made a nifty move before unleashing a rifle shot into the net with a little more than 10 minutes remaining in the first half.
“I took a touch around,” Hallis said. “I saw a little gap and decided, ‘I have to take a shot.’ I just kept it on frame and it went past the goalkeeper.”
Hallis has seen the Tigers quite often since his high school career began. Like the Explorers, Twinsburg is a member of the Suburban League National Conference.
When the two teams met earlier this month in Twinsburg, the Tigers gave Hudson all it could handle.
In the end, though, the Explorers prevailed with a thrilling 3-2 victory.
“We knew that they were a tough team, but I think the atmosphere of the playoffs really change how we think and our mentality, so I think that really helped,” Hallis said. “Being on our home field and wanting to protect Hudson, I think that really makes a difference too.”
Scoring first didn’t hurt either. Neither did scoring second, third and fourth.
In any game, jumping on top early can cause consternation for the opponent, especially in a postseason game.
For the Explorers, pouncing on the first opportunity was their top priority. In fact, when Hudson made the trip north to visit its conference rival a little more than two weeks earlier, it was the Tigers who delivered the first punch.
“We all know if we get down first, it’s hard to come back,” Hallis said. “It was one of our main points to get in front, score a couple goals and take them out of the game as soon as we can.”
Hallis and his teammates did just that, thanks to their exquisite passing game and one-on-one skills.
Hallis knows the journey must continue if his team wants to achieve greatness.
Advancing to the district final isn’t exactly earth-shattering for the always formidable Explorers. After all, parades for sports teams don’t take place unless trophies are collected.
Regardless, Hallis doesn’t want his team to be judged by the amount of gold it hopes to discover. Win or lose, every step Hallis takes on the pitch is a joyride for the gifted teenager.
“I think I can definitely appreciate it,” Hallis said. “You have to appreciate everything. I think it will be a new challenge. I’m still excited.”
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, email@example.com or @FrankAceto_RPC.