by Michael Leonard | Sports Editor
Stow -- In field hockey as in other sports, if a team can maintain possession in its opponent's end, good things will happen.
That philosophy led the Hudson field hockey team to a dominant performance over backyard rival Stow-Munroe Falls Sept. 17 at Bulldog Stadium.
Hudson finished with a 5-0 win over the Lady Bulldogs in a match that saw the Lady Explorers dominate from the opening whistle.
Hudson, which also earned a commanding 9-0 victory over Orange Sept. 19 in Pepper Pike, moved to 6-2. Stow dropped to 1-7.
Lady Explorers head coach Jen Haney said her team followed her game plan of possessing the ball perfectly.
"That's one thing we stress," she said. "The more your possess the ball and the more you pass, the more you're going to play. Our passing has always been good and we created a lot of opportunities."
Stow head coach Kelly Given played the opposite strategy. She was looking to have her squad play good defense and hit Hudson on the counterattack.
"We played good defensively for most of the first half," Given said. "Hudson had a lot of athletic players. The fatigue kind of caught up with us late in the first half."
Early on, both teams' strategies seemed to be working. While the Lady Explorers controlled the action, Stow's defense stood strong.
Stow goaltender Kayla Cartwright did an excellent job in the goal circle, despite having Hudson players on top of her most of the game.
Cartwright finished with 10 saves for the Lady Bulldogs.
"I was very impressed with their goaltender," Haney said of Cartwright. "Our defense anticipated their moves well and stepped up with speed."
Indeed, Hudson was able to stop Stow's few breakout attempts. The Lady Bulldogs finished with only one shot on goal and one penalty corner in the game.
Lady Explorers' goaltender Jackie Kisthardt made one save to earn the shutout.
After 20 minutes of near-constant pressure, Hudson finally found the breakthrough with 6 minutes, 15 seconds left in the first half.
Off a long hit from the near side, the Lady Explorers sent the ball right into the goal crease. In the ensuing scramble, Maria Russell got her stick to the ball and put it into the net.
With a 1-0 lead, Hudson pressed its advantage and converted a pair of late penalty corners.
With 3:11 left in the first half, Meredith Pinkerton took the penalty corner and slid the ball to Kiley Merrill at the top of the circle.
Merrill unleashed a huge shot which thudded into the goal, making it 2-0.
With 1:36 left in the half, Pinkerton took another penalty corner. This time, she teed up Erin Hoover for a huge shot, giving the Lady Explorers a 3-0 lead at halftime.
"Merill and Hoover are both really big hitters," Haney said. "When they made contact, you can really hear that smack into the goal."
The two big hitters combined to give Hudson a 4-0 advantage with 18:30 left in the second half. Hoover took a penalty corner and fed it to Merrill, who ripped home her second goal of the game from the top of the circle.
The Lady Explorers completed the rout with 14:58 when Jackie Ullmer scored an unassisted goal.
Against Orange, Cate Cronan and Pinkerton each scored twice for the Lady Explorers and Merrill, Russell, Hoover, Eden Janesch and Marybeth Slager scored one goal apiece.
Hudson, which won its fifth straight match, had a 3-0 lead at halftime.
The Lady Explorers are scheduled to return to action Sept. 24 against Gates Mills Hawken at Scott Malson Field. The match is set to begin at 4:30 p.m.