HUDSON — In the early season, the offense had been flowing like water for the Hudson boys soccer team.
Coach Steve Knapp knew, however, that his team would likely get tested when it opened Suburban League National Conference play.
That’s exactly what happened when Wadsworth visited a misty Hudson Memorial Stadium. The Grizzlies played a solid defensive game to slow down the Explorers.
But as Knapp noted, getting tested might not be a bad thing.
“Maybe not playing our best game and still winning shows the quality of this team,” Knapp said.
Hudson (3-0, 1-0) scored a 1-0 win over Wadsworth (0-2, 0-1), thanks to a goal by junior Ben Hallis in the 16th minute.
“We worked hard,” Knapp said. “Finishing those chances early in the game would have made things a lot easier for us. I just think that Wadsworth was really organized and made us work for it.”
Wadsworth coach John Johnson said his team showed a lot in the loss.
“It’s disappointing to lose, but we played soccer the way soccer is supposed to be played tonight,” Johnson said. “We have not taken a back step since our first scrimmage.”
Johnson said his team’s strategy was to stay compact in the back and force everything outside. As a result, Hudson got much of its offense from set pieces early on, while Wadsworth tried to work on the counterattack.
“We missed some chances, but so did they,” Johnson said.
Knapp said some of his players had off games, but Hallis was not one of them.
In the 16th minute, Hallis worked a quick one-two pass with senior Skanda Moorthy and continued his run. Hallis split two Wadsworth defenders and shot a low ball past Grizzlies goalkeeper Connor Margo to make it 1-0.
“Ben was on a different level tonight,” Knapp said. “Not only the goal, I don’t think he put a foot wrong for the entire game.”
However, Hudson’s offense sputtered after the goal, being slowed down by Wadsworth’s defense and Margo, who finished with four saves. Each team finished with five shots on goal.
Behind 1-0 at the half, Wadsworth's best chance came on a corner kick in the 45h minute.
After a good service from the right side, Wadsworth junior Aiden Mendel put a header on net at point-blank range. Hudson goalkeeper Stephen Yerian pushed the ball onto the bar to make the save, and the rebound was pushed wide.
A freshman, Yerian finished with five saves.
“That was a super save on that corner kick,” Knapp said. “He’s very talented. He’s good with his feet and he’s shown what he can do.”
Hudson pushed hard to put the game out of reach, but never found the second goal. Moorthy came the closest in the 72nd minute, when he sent a curling shot to the back post, only to be denied by a diving, one-handed save from Margo.
Hudson finished with a 6-3 edge in corner kicks.
The Explorers will welcome defending Division I state champion Medina to Memorial Stadium Saturday at 7 p.m. before hosting Bresksville-Broadview Heights next Tuesday at 7 p.m.