by Frank Aceto
Associate Sports Editor
Twinsburg -- They entered their latest showdown with a sparkling streak.
The Tigers hadn't lost a Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division game since 2011.
Hudson got that memo.
It turned out to be a great motivational tool for the Explorers.
The Hudson boys soccer team made a stellar Valley Division debut with a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Twinsburg Sept. 11 at Twinsburg Tiger Stadium.
The Explorers (4-3-1, 1-0), who earned a 0-0 draw with Twinsburg last year and as a result, shared the Valley Division title with the Tigers, heard about their opponents' remarkable run prior to the game.
It turned out to be music to the Hudson players' and coaches' ears.
"We knew Twinsburg was undefeated and they were very proud of their record," Explorers' first-year head coach Kelsey Resnick said. "This win sets the tone for the rest of conference play."
For what seemed like an eternity, the two teams were deadlocked in a 1-1 tie.
After receiving a pass from Trevor Colazzo, Matt Wallace got Hudson on the board by finding the net in the 18th minute.
The Tigers (3-1-3, 0-1) got the equalizer when Tommy Radtke converted a penalty kick nearly six minutes later.
Hudson controlled possession for much of the evening, but both teams had chances to take the lead.
Finally, the Explorers struck with 14 minutes, 16 seconds left in the game.
Jack Sullivan made a nifty pass through traffic to teammate Andrew Kern, who ripped a low liner into the net to give Hudson a 2-1 lead.
"We stress to our guys to be metronomes," Resnick said. "We want them to go left to right and right to left. We were able to get one going left to right."
Despite falling behind, the proud Twinsburg players put up a valiant fight in the final moments.
The Tigers had a few chances, particularly late in the game. They really had that look in their eyes when the Explorers' starting goalkeeper went down with an injury.
Charlie Sockol was forced to leave the game after colliding with a Twinsburg player with 4:27 remaining. Sockol had a rather noticeable scar on his cheek after the collision and needed 15 stitches.
"Charlie was in a one-and-one situation and got caught with a knee," Resnick said.
Backup keeper Brendan O'Neil replaced Sockol in the nets and stayed active the rest of the game.
The Tigers got deep in the box at least a couple of times late in the game, but O'Neil and the rest of the defense were able to withstand the stampede.
"Brendan had big shoes to fill and you never want to see someone get a chance to play because someone gets hurt," Resnick said. "I've been really happy with Brendan's work rate."
Twinsburg also had injury woes. The Tigers were missing All-Ohio striker Chase Betenson and starters Grant Sutliff and Kyle Rosselot because of injuries.
What made the situation worse for Twinsburg was it lost Jake Krieger to an eye injury not long after the game began.
"We were down four starters, so we had some freshmen and sophomores playing," Twinsburg head coach Mike Lally said. "Hudson obviously had a lot of the possession, but we were able to put their back line under pressure by switching to a 4-4-2."
The Tigers had a 6-5 advantage in shots on goal and Hudson had a 4-2 edge on corner kicks. Sockol made five saves before his injury. Twinsburg keeper Alex Molinari made four saves.
"Being a first-year coach, I'm still learning about the rivalry [with Twinsburg]," Resnick said. "It has really evolved over the years. We expect hard-fought games whenever we play Twinsburg."
The Explorers were scheduled to visit NOC foe Stow-Munroe Falls Sept. 14. Results were not available at press time.
They are set to host NOC Valley Division rival Mentor Sept. 17 at 7 p.m.