by Frank Aceto | Associate Sports Editor
Hudson -- You can't make things happen if you don't have the ball.
Unfortunately for the Cuyahoga Falls boys soccer team, that could describe what life was like for the Black Tigers Aug. 27.
Hudson improved to 2-1-1 with a 4-1 victory over Falls in a Northeast Ohio Conference showdown Aug. 27 at Hudson Memorial Stadium.
The Explorers dominated possession for much of the game and kept the ball on the Black Tigers' end throughout the evening.
Using short, one-touch passes, Hudson generated plenty of scoring opportunities throughout the game.
Nevertheless, the Explorers didn't put the game away until late in the second half.
Hudson's lead was just 2-0 with less than 15 minutes remaining in the game.
"It was frustrating," Explorers' first-year head coach Kelsey Resnick said.
"I thought we should have buried at least a couple more in the first half. Give Falls credit, though."
With the loss, the Black Tigers fell to 1-2 on the season. Although its players rarely had the ball at their feet for more than a few seconds, Falls managed to hang tough with its faster, more skillful opponents.
But Hudson finally settled things for good in the final 15 minutes.
Trevor Colazzo scored from inside the Black Tigers' penalty box to make it 3-0 with 14:47 left. Less than a minute later, Jack Sullivan put the finishing touches when his hard shot from point-blank range found the net.
"The boys hung in there," Falls head coach Eric Ortopan said. "They tried to keep up with the pace. They were just exhausted in the end."
The Black Tigers made sure they didn't leave the field with a zero on the scoreboard.
Falls senior Devin Tulley had, perhaps, the most impressive goal of the evening when he ripped a free kick into the net from approximately 35 yards away. Hudson goalkeeper Charlie Sockol never had a chance.
"That kid has got a foot on him," Ortopan said of Tulley.
In the end, the Black Tigers couldn't seize control of the ball against the talented Explorers.
The Falls defenders found themselves chasing Hudson players much of the game. When the Black Tigers were able to force a turnover, they usually gave it right back. The Explorers also won a majority of the 50-50 balls.
"We're getting a little more dangerous in the attacking third and were getting more comfortable on the ball," Resnick said. "We're trying to avoid playing direct soccer. We want to have high-percentage passes."
Sullivan got things started for Hudson when he beat a Falls' defender to a long pass from Colazzo. When Sullivan gathered the ball at his feet, he took a few dribbles and beat Black Tigers' freshman keeper Tanner Treptow with a low line drive into the right corner of the net.
Andrew Kern made it 2-0 with 6:46 remaining in the first half when his shot from just inside the penalty box found the strings.
Colazzo finished with two assists and Sullivan and Ryan Mahan added one assist. Treptow finished with 10 saves for Falls.
"When you play a team like Hudson, you want to either compete with them or just stay afloat," Ortopan said. "We just didn't get any opportunities. But I think our kids should hold their heads up high."
Ortopan hopes one of his starting senior defenders will be back on the field this week. Senior Justin Bennet had to leave the game with 21:24 left in the first half after suffering a leg injury. His status was unknown as of press time.
"Justin is an excellent defensive player," Ortopan said.
The Explorers also were recently hit by the injury bug. Senior center midfielder Nick Woodward, who got injured in Hudson's season opener against Copley Aug. 20, is out for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
"Nick is basically a part of our coaching staff now," Resnick said. "He's still an integral part of the team."
The Explorers were scheduled to visit Jackson Aug. 31 in Massillon. Results were not available at press time.
They are set to host Cleveland St. Ignatius Sept. 3 at 7 p.m.