Hudson girls soccer erupts to rout Nordonia in district semifinal
MACEDONIA — When Nordonia girls soccer beat Hudson 3-0 back on Sept. 8, the game set the tone for both teams' seasons.
The Knights' victory launched them towards a school record for wins, while Hudson was stuck around the .500 mark for most of the fall.
Of course, avenging that loss in a Division I district semifinal game was a powerful motivator for Hudson.
On a rainy night at Nordonia's Boliantz Stadium Oct. 26, it rained goals for the Explorers.
Led by four goals from senior forward Tori Liesen, the Explorers played their best offensive game of the season, scoring an 8-2 rout of the Knights.
With the win, Hudson improved to 7-6-2 on the season and earned a berth in the district final. Hudson was set to travel to face top-seeded Archbishop Hoban Oct. 29 at 6 p.m. Hoban defeated Madison 10-1 Oct. 26.
Hudson coach Caleb Fortune was pleased, but surprised, that his team put it all together.
"I think we've know we've been capable of something like this," Fortune said. "We've talked in practice about trying to pass the ball around and we did tonight. The improvement we have this season was represented in the results. From losing 3-0 to a six-goal win, that's a nine-goal spread."
Liesen said everything just clicked for the Explorers.
"That was definitely our best game of the season," Liesen said. "Everybody showed up and everybody played their best. I had a feeling in warm-ups we could do something like this."
Meanwhile, the loss was an inglorious end to perhaps the best season in Nordonia girls soccer history, as the Knights finished at 14-4.
"We knew when we got behind early, we were in trouble," Gicei said. "We've struggled at times this year when we got behind early. [Fortune] got the best out of his team. It was a different team than what we played the first time.
"This loss shouldn't take away from what we did this year," Gicei added. "We've had a great year."
Hudson attacked from the opening whistle, as the Explorers finished with a 17-6 edge in shots on goal.
Hudson pumped it two goal in the first 10 minutes of the game.
Liesen opened the scoring in the sixth minute with brilliant individual effort, as she fought off two Nordonia defenders, cut inside the box and slotted a shot just inside the left post.
In the eighth minute, senior Ally Campanella ran onto perfect through ball and sprinted behind the Nordonia defense before blasting home a shot.
Early on, the Knights didn't seem fazed by the Explorers, as Nordonia found its offense as well.
After getting tripped in the Hudson penalty box, Nordonia senior Sam Wiehe took the penalty kick and smashed into the right side of the net, making it 2-1 in the 15th minute.
However, each time Nordonia tried to get back in the game, Hudson had an answer.
Just a minute after the penalty, Liesen would get her second goal of the night on a set piece. Taking a free kick just outside the penalty box, Liesen sent the ball to the left post and Nordonia goalkeeper Lyndsey Beattie was unable to kick it away.
In her final game as a Knight, Beattie endured a long night, finishing with seven saves. Hudson sophomore goaltender Emma Liesen — Tori's sister — finished with four saves.
Nordonia captain Grace Koperna gave the Knights hope in the 25th minute. She was able to run onto a through ball from Wiehe and send it home to make it 3-2.
Again, Hudson would answer. Campanella made a nice run along the end line and squeezed home a goal from a tight angle.
"The key to the game was, every time we made a little run, they answered," Gicei said. "Our defense has been so solid this year."
The best goal of the night for Hudson may have come in the 36th minute. Junior Eve Berish launched a shot from 35 yards out that flew right into the top right corner of the net, sending the Explorers to a 5-2 halftime lead.
"We've probably been due for a bit of good luck," Fortune said. "This is the first time we've won two games in a row all year."
If Nordonia wanted any hope of a rally, it needed a goal early in the second half.
Instead, Hudson pumped in three more goal in the first 10 minutes of the half to erase all doubt.
Liesen got her hat trick in the 42nd minute, as she slalomed through the middle of the Knights defense, before knocking a high shot into the net.
In the 45th minute, Berish got her second goal of the night. She made a surging run down the right channel before cutting inside and firing a shot inside the post.
Liesen capped the rout in the 48th minute, firing home a goal from a tight angle on the left side.
Hudson will look to avenge another big loss in the district final, as Hoban defeated the Explorers 8-0 on Oct. 17.
"I'm really excited to get a shot at Hoban," Liesen said.