STOW: It took only a few minutes for Stow’s inflatable bulldog on the sideline to lose all its air after the players ran under it to get introduced.
And it took Hudson about that long to deflate the Bulldogs’ hope for another upset.
It took less than four minutes for the Explorers to score twice on their way to a 3-1 victory over Stow in a Kent Division I district soccer semifinal Wednesday night.
The match was similar to the one the teams played earlier in the season when the Explorers (10-4-4) jumped out to a 4-0 lead, withstanding a comeback to win 4-2. That is why Hudson coach Greg Shoults worked his Explorers on restarts.
“It really comes down that you have to get a goal on a restart when a game is going to be tight,” Shoults said. “We tried to stay with our game and they [Stow] never give up; they never quit. I give them a lot of credit.”
The first goal came off a corner kick by Matt Wallace, booting from the left side to senior Tyler Monaco, who scored on a header for a 1-0 lead just 3:21 into the match.
“Matt Wallace had a great cross and it hit on the back of my head and went in,” Monaco said. “Getting up on them early gave us a lot of momentum.”
Just 36 seconds later, sophomore forward Trevor Colazzo got a loose ball on the left side and ripped the shot from about 25 yards past goalkeeper Luke Rocco, putting the Explorers ahead 2-0.
Colazzo said the Explorers were well aware of the Bulldogs’ capability of pulling off another upset in the tournament.
“They are always going to go hard so you have to go hard with them,” Colazzo said. “You have to keep your composure.”
Colazzo put the Explorers ahead 3-0 with 30:47 remaining in the match, finishing a fast run off a nice assist from the team’s leading scorer this year, Gabe Walker, who said this was a big step in the Explorers’ ultimate goal.
“We want to get to Columbus,” Walker said. “We wanted to get up on these guys early especially at home after they had upset Twinsburg.”
The Bulldogs (7-9-3) fought back, finally breaking through on a goal by Jared Baker, who sprinted quickly down the field and then lofted the ball from the 15-yard line that carried over Hudson goalkeeper Charlie Sockol’s leaping right arm and into the left side of the net.
Shoults said the Explorers’ style is designed to withstand potential comebacks.
“We work on composure with the ball. Part of our game is we do it all year, we play a difficult schedule, which is great preparation for the tournament,” Shoults said.
Coming off their upset win over previously undefeated Twinsburg, Bulldogs coach Kyle Kosmala hoped his team could keep the momentum.
“The first few minutes …they caught us off guard,” he said. “We had a couple of nice opportunities to score but we could not finish.”
Shoults said he had positioned the team at the tournament draw in the bracket so they would host the district final, which is tentatively scheduled for 7 p.m. at the new Memorial Stadium against Aurora, which defeated Solon in the other district semifinal.
“I wanted to play it at home and it worked out,” Shoults said.
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