by Michael Leonard
Hudson -- The Hudson boys soccer team celebrated Senior Night before its game with Medina Oct. 1 at Hudson Memorial Stadium.
During the pregame ceremonies, several of the Explorers' 10 senior players mentioned their favorite memory from the team was of junior teammate Jack Sullivan crashing into a trash can.
However, during the game, Sullivan crashed through something else -- the Bees' defense.
Sullivan's driving run to the goal in the 15th minute proved to be the game winner as Hudson scored a 1-0 win over Medina, which was ranked eighth in a recent Ohio Scholastic Soccer Coaches Association Division I state poll.
Hudson improved to 8-4-2 on the season.
The Explorers find themselves in thick of the Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division race.
Hudson moved to 3-1 in the division with one game left.
The Explorers handed the Bees their first loss. Medina fell to 6-1-6 overall and 1-1-2 in the division.
The Bees finished with a 4-2 edge in shots on goal and 2-1 edge in corner kicks.
Hudson head coach Kelsey Resnick said he knew his team was in for a battle.
"Medina has been a very tough team to break down defensively," Resnick said. "I think they've given up only two or three goals all season."
In fact, the Bees came into the contest having posted eight straight shutouts.
Medina head coach Mark Malikowski admitted it was a frustrating night.
"We created some great chances early on," he said. "It was a simple question of finishing. They put one in and we didn't."
The Bees were on the attack early, but they found themselves thwarted by both of Hudson's goalkeepers.
Ben Blechman, usually Hudson's backup keeper, made a spectacular sliding save in the sixth minute after he was given the chance to start for Senior Night. Blechman picked up two saves as he played the first 10 minutes of the game.
When Explorers' starting keeper Brendan O'Neil came in after the 10th minute, he also made a brilliant diving save to deny the Bees in the 15th minute. O'Neil finished with three saves.
The critical moment came for Hudson in the 15th minute.
The Medina defense headed a crossing ball out of the box, but the ball fell right to Sullivan.
Sullivan sprinted to the box, broke through a couple of tackle attempts and found himself alone in front of the net. Sullivan slid a low shot wide of Bees keeper Dean McNeil to make it 1-0. Trevor Colazzo was credited with the assist.
"I just took a few touches and was able to get it home," Sullivan said.
"You can't ask for a better guy stepping up from central midfield," Resnick said. "He's been a leader for us as a captain and on the field."
For the rest of the game, the two sides basically cancelled each other out.
After halftime, the Explorers allowed only one shot on goal, which Resnick saved easily.
Hudson's defense showed a lot of speed, limiting the Bees to just taking long shots for most of the second half.
"We stress that you need to keep a clean sheet as long as you can," Resnick said. "If you do that, the worst that you can do is 0-0.
"They had a very strong front line," Resnick said of Medina. "Our guys were able to make some great plays to keep them out."
The Bees finished with a 5-3 edge in shots on goal and 2-1 edge in corner kicks.
The win sets up Hudson to take on Solon in its Valley Division finale Oct. 8 on the road. Play is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.
The Explorers were set to play Bishop Watterson Oct. 5 in Columbus. Results were not available at press time.