Hudson's late goal spoils valiant effort by Twinsburg girls soccer

Michael Leonard
Kent Weeklies
Twinsburg forward Jaydn Harris blocks a clearing attempt during the Tigers' 1-1 draw with Hudson Oct. 7 at Tiger Stadium.

TWINSBURG — For many years, the rivalry between Twinsburg and Hudson girls soccer was a one-sided affair.

Until the last few years, the Explorers dominated their neighbors to the north. However, the Tigers' rise over the last five years has seen a bit of a role reversal.

The game Oct. 7 between the Tigers and Explorers is likely to only to heighten the rivalry in years to come.

Twinsburg nearly made an early goal stand up, despite being down a player for more than 70 minutes. However, a goal in the 79th minute allowed Hudson to pull out a 1-1 draw at Tiger Stadium.

Hudson captain Tori Liesen carries the ball ahead of Twinsburg's Olivia Zelenka during the Explorers' 1-1 draw at Twinsburg Oct. 7. Liesen scored the game-tying goal in the 79th minute.

The draw ended Twinsburg's title hopes in the Suburban League National Conference, as the Tigers moved to 8-2-3 and finished 4-1-2 in the conference. Hudson moved to 5-4-2, 2-3-2 in the conference. 

Brecksville-Broadview Heights claimed the National Conference title Oct. 7, thanks to a 4-0 win over Wadsworth.

Tiger coach Jon Garber was very happy with his team's effort, if not the result.

"You can tell from the way the girls reacted, it's a big of a downer," Garber said. "The girls are proud of themselves. The coaches are proud of them. We just didn't park the bus when we went a man down."

Meanwhile, Hudson coach Caleb Fortune noted his team was fortunate to escape with a draw, even with the man advantage.

"I think we have good players, but we need to bring it out of them," Fortune said. "I felt we passed the ball well, but we couldn't do anything in the final third. Credit to Twinsburg for playing the way they did."

The Tigers and Explorers played end-to-end soccer from the opening whistle, but it was Twinsburg who got the early goal.

In the sixth minute, Tiger forward Jaydn Harris was able to sprint to the end line and serve the ball into the six-yard box, where fellow forward Emily Patrzyk tapped it home.

Both coaches acknowledged Harris was the most dangerous player on the pitch.

"Their No. 6 (Harris) was very good and very quick," Fortune said. "That goal they scored was a beautiful."

"Fortunately, Jadyn was able to present enough of a threat to them to keep their backline from pushing forward," Garber said.

The pivotal moment in the game came just four minutes later.

Hudson forward Reagan Miele was able to run onto a ball just behind the Tiger defense. Rushing off her line, Twinsburg goaltender Alexis Cellura collided with Miele just outside the box.

The referee's ruled that Cellura had denied Miele a clear goal-scoring chance and gave her a red card, forcing Twinsburg to play with 10 players.

"I hate to see anyone given a red car," Fortune said. "It's unfortunate, but that's the rule."

"For me, I don't know know if she had control enough of the ball to call it a clear chance," Garber said. "I thought it was a yellow card and maybe a penalty kick. The referees saw what they saw."

The ensuing free kick banged off a wall of Tiger defenders.

To their credit, the Tigers played their brand of soccer throughout the game, as Twinsburg didn't allow a shot on goal from Hudson in the first half.

In the second half, Hudson came out pressing the issue early, but could not find a way through the Tigers' defense.

Tigers backup goaltender Elliote Schneeman had two saves and broke up numerous Hudson attacks in relief of Cellura.

"I'm incredibly proud of Elliote," Garber said. "She's a big part of our team and she showed her quality today."

"I felt there were times that Twinsburg had better chances than us, even when they were down to 10," Fortune said. "I think they're going to go several rounds deep in the playoffs."

Twinsburg looked like it was going to hold out for the win until a moment of magic came from Hudson forward Tori Liesen.

Taking the ball on the left side of the field with two minutes left, Liesen cut inside towards the box and launched a shot. The ball flew into the upper right corner of the net, giving Scheenman no chance.

Both teams finished the game with three shots on net, as Hudson goaltender Emma Liesen finished with two saves. Twinsburg finished with a 4-2 edge in corner kicks.