by Michael Leonard
Hudson -- While the Hudson and Stow-Munroe Falls girls soccer rosters each are very young, the two teams are at very different stages of development.
The Lady Explorers came into their Division I sectional final with a record of 12-2-2, having played defending Division I state champion Perrysburg to a 2-2 draw in its final regular-season game Oct. 12
By contrast, injuries has forced the Lady Bulldogs, who finished 9-8-1 in 2013, to shuffle their lineup and playing style in midseason.
Still, Stow head coach Chris Tipton noted the Lady Bulldogs were "playing the best soccer of the season over the last five games."
Stow then put its best foot forward Oct. 17 at Hudson Memorial Stadium, but in the end, Hudson had too much firepower.
The Lady Explorers controlled the game and made its chances in the second half count en route to a 4-0 win.
Third-seeded Hudson is scheduled to play at top-seeded Twinsburg Oct. 22 at 7 p.m. The Lady Tigers, who earned a 2-1 win over the Lady Explorers earlier in the season, earned a 3-0 win over Aurora to advance.
"It's going to be a real fun game to play," Hudson head coach Costa Kalorides said of the upcoming Twinsburg game.
Despite the fact the Lady Explorers earned a 6-1 win over Stow earlier this season, Kalorides took no chances.
"You always have got to be ready when you play Stow," he said. "We have a lot of respect for what [Stow coach] Chris [Tipton] does. It's unfortunate you have to play a friend in these games."
Tipton said the effort was definitely there for the Lady Bulldogs.
"We tried to compact the midfield because we know they love to play the ball wide," Tipton said. "They have so many weapons at every position. They really messed with our plan of making five- and six-yard passes in the middle of the field. Their team speed is amazing."
Hudson took control of the match early, opening the scoring in the eighth minute. Senior Margo Camp sent a beautiful diagonal ball across the field, allowing Erin Torrence to run onto the ball.
Torrence smashed the ball just beyond the reach of Stow goalkeeper Sarah Kassinger.
Kassinger finished with five saves in the game, while Lady Explorers' keeper Sarah L'Hommedieu needed only on save to earn the shutout.
That would be it for the first half as a combination of good Stow defense and bad luck foiled Hudson. The Lady Explorers hit the post or crossbar five times in the game.
"We just needed a little more composure in front of the goal," Kalorides said. "We kind of wore them down a little. It kind of got away from them after the second goal."
The second goal came in the 55th minute when Alex Wright fought for the ball with the Stow defense. Wright turned and shot the ball into the far-side netting, giving Kassinger no chance and making it 2-0.
Hudson swarmed the goal after that and Elizabeth Osthues got her first goal of the season in the 62nd minute. Osthues put a perfect square ball from Kate Waters into the roof of the net.
Waters then closed out the scoring in the 70th minute. After Wright dropped the ball to her just outside the box, Waters smashed a perfect shot through a maze of legs to make it 4-0.
Stow's best scoring chance came off a free kick in the 65th minute. Sadie Norton sent a curling ball on net, but L'Hommedieu parried the ball onto the post to keep it out.
The Lady Explorers finished with a 9-1 edge in shots on goal.
Despite the loss, Tipton had nothing but praise for his team.
"This was a much better effort than the first time we played them," Tipton said. "This group has persevered through a lot of things; a lot of key injuries. We've had to play a different game because of those injuries and they've come back strong."