Hudson boys soccer's offense explodes in rout of rival Stow
HUDSON — The rivalry between Stow-Munroe Falls and Hudson boys soccer is one of the most intense in Northeast Ohio.
Often, clashes between the Bulldogs and Explorers have league title implications and this year's match was no exception.
Hudson had to be considered the favorite when two teams met Oct. 6 at Hudson Memorial Stadium, as the Explorers were ranked No. 7 in Division I in the Oct. 5 Ohio Scholastic Soccer Coaches Association poll.
Stow came in undaunted, having vanquished state-ranked Twinsburg a week earlier.
By game's end, however, Stow coach Kyle Kosmala admitted their was little he could do but tip his hat.
Hudson scored five unanswered goals after the game was tied early to score a 6-1 win over the Bulldogs.
Hudson has one hand on the Suburban League National Conference title, as it improved to 11-1, 6-0 in the National Conference. Stow dropped to 6-5-3, 3-2-1 in the conference.
Knowing his team was playing against strong defensive side, Hudson coach Steve Knapp lauded the Explorers' offense.
"It was a very good game tonight," Knapp said. "We played patient and we didn't rush things into the box. We knew they were well-organized in the back. They're just so well-coached and well-disciplined."
Kosmala noted his team was ripped apart by the best team they had played all year.
"They're skilled at every position," Kosmala said. "They're a top five team in the state and they've got ambitions to get to Columbus. There was just too much pressure. We had a lot of trouble just getting out of our own end, especially in the second half."
Hudson captain Ben Hallis noted getting the early goal was critical.
"Every time we play each other, its seems they get an early goal and we can't get a goal until the last 15 minutes," Hallis said.
Hallis took care of that issue in the seventh minute. Off a pass from Caleb Junko, Hallis made a button-hook cut to the outside of the Stow defense and slid the ball just inside the post to make it 1-0.
While Hudson had at least 80% of the ball in the first half, Stow was dangerous the few times it counterattacked.
"I think we only had three really chances in there first half, but they were good ones and we got one," Kosmala said.
Stow was able to equalize off a free kick in the 14th minute. After sending the ball wide, the Bulldogs got a cross into the top of the box. Senior midfielder Nathan Collins blasted the ball inside the post to make it 1-1.
That turned out to be Stow's lone shot on goal of the night, compared to 14 for the Explorers.
Hudson looked like it might go to halftime tied until Hallis scored a brilliant goal in the 36th minute.
Taking a pass from Ben Hopkins, Hallis unleashed a rocket from outside the box, which banged off the left post and into the net.
"Those are my shots, right there, but I don't even know what to say about that one," Hallis said."
Kosmala lamented the fact his team gave up goals just before and just after halftime.
"The third goal was the back breaker for us," Kosmala said. "Giving it up on the corner kick is something you don't want to do."
On that corner kick in the 42nd minute, Hudson's Quinn Groves sent a ball to the near post. In a crowd of bodies, senior Nasser Tahat poked the ball into the net to make it 3-1.
"We talked at halftime about the importance of getting that third goal," Knapp said. "It was great to see it come off a corner kick, because we haven't been having much success with corner kicks.
"I wanted one to get one goal from the run of play and one goal from a set piece tonight," Knapp added. "We did that, so it was a good night."
Hudson attacked with virtual impunity in the second half. as the Bulldogs were completely starved off possession.
Hopkins made it 4-1 in the 52nd minute when he latched on to a deflected cross and buried a shot just inside left post.
Hudson started emptying its bench from there, but it did nothing to stop the onlslaught.
Junior Sean Durkin made it 5-1 in the 70th minute when he slotted a shot home.
In the 79th minute, Durkin was denied a second goal on a great stop Stow backup goaltender Alex Kissner, but Mike Kane pounced on the rebound to complete the scoring.
Stow starting goaltender Alex Tosko and Kissner each had four saves in the loss.
Hudson's edge in possession was highlighted by a 9-1 edge in corner kicks.