Stow girls soccer settles for draw against gritty Wadsworth

Michael Leonard
Kent Weeklies
Stow-Murnoe Falls' Kailey Hobart dribbles the ball ahead of Wadsworth's Hailey Bush during the Bulldogs' 0-0 draw with Wadsworth Sept. 9 at Art Wright Stadium.

WADSWORTH — A year removed from winning its first championship in the Suburban League National Conference, Stow-Munroe Falls girls soccer has had to deal with the same issues every team has in the COVID-19 era.

While the Bulldogs only lost four players to graduation, they were all multi-year starters. Stow has had to make due without any scrimmages to get ready for the season as well.

Thus, third-year coach Jim Dudones has had some challenges as it looks to defend its crown.

Early returns have shown the Bulldogs can be competitive with anyone, but are not quite a polished gem just yet.

For the second straight week, Stow had to settle for a draw in Suburban League National Conference competition. This time, Stow played to a 0-0 tie with Wadsworth Sept. 9 at Art Wright Stadium.

Coming off a 2-0 win at Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy Sept. 5, the Bulldogs record moved to 2-1-2, 0-0-2 in the National Conference.

Dudones noted that despite the draw, he believes his team is still capable of big things this fall.

Stow-Munroe Falls' Krista McDowell fights for the ball with a pair of Wadsworth defenders during the Bulldogs' 0-0 draw with Wadsworth Sept. 9 at Art Wright Stadium.

"I think we have a very complete team," Dudones said. "The last two Wednesdays, we just haven't been able to close it out. We need to be able to work on that."

"We are a direct, versatile team," Dudones said. "We can play both inside and outside balls up top. We've got to be able to work out our scoring. Tonight, we needed to do a better job finding our forwards in good spaces."

The Wadsworth game was a bit frustrating for Stow, as the Bulldogs were unable to break down the Grizzlies' pushed-up defense. Stow was called for offsides seven times in the contest.

"I felt the second half went much better for them than us," Dudones said. "They did a good job adjusting. We weren't able to do much offensively. I'm very happy with zero on scoreboard for them. Anytime you play to shutout, you give yourself a chance to win."

Wadsworth coach Paul Williford was very happy with his team's performance.

"We had a couple games where we were just trying to figure things out," Williford said. "Like I told the girls, tonight was a big step forward for us. We've got to get a lot tighter in the final third. Against a good team, you're only going to get one or two good chances and they're gone quickly."

The first half saw both teams cancel each other out.

Stow got the best chance of the first half when its two starting forwards connected. Sophomore Paige Klingensmith sent a ball up the middle, which allowed Kailey Hobart to make a run at goal.

However, Wadsworth goaltender Emily Rhoads rushed off her line and took the one-on-one shot off Hobart's foot.

Rhoads finished the game with eight saves, as Stow finished with an 8-4 edge in shots on goal.

"If I had a player of the game tonight, it would be Emily," Williford said. "There's only two or three times in a game where a goalie is asked to make not normal saves and she made all three of them tonight."

Rhodes wasn't the only goaltender who drew complements. Dudones noted Stow goalkeeper Taylor Galioto wasn't very busy, but came up huge when asked. Galioto finished with four saves.

"We pushed up players in the second half trying to make something happen in the second half and it failed for us," Dudones said. "It led to chances for them. She really helped us out."

Stow finished with a 5-2 edge in corner kicks, but Dudones was not pleased how the Bulldogs handled them.

"Our execution tonight, in terms of set pieces, was terrible," Dudones said. "That's on all of us. We didn't have them ready."

Both teams has their best chances in the game with under two minutes left. Wadsworth had a chance to get to bouncing ball in the box, but Galioto left her line and made a point-blank save, sending the ball out out for a corner kick.

On the corner kick, Stow cleared the ball and raced down the field on the counterattack. With a two-on-one situation developing, Stow freshman Corrine Casenhiser sent a ball to the left side, allowing sophomore Grace Beck to race toward the net.

Beck took a shot, but was denied on a brilliant diving stop by Rhodes.

Wadsworth had one last chance as time was expiring, but the Grizzlies shot trickled wide of the net.

Stow will look to score its first National Division win when it travels to Nordonia Sept. 16 at 7 p.m.