After rolling through the regional round of the playoffs with a pair of 8-0 victories, the Hudson boys’ soccer team couldn’t get past Big Rivers Conference rival Eau Claire Memorial in a WIAA Division 1 sectional semifinal Thursday, Oct. 31, in Eau Claire.
The Old Abes ended the Raiders season, 2-0, then went on to a 3-0 win over Appleton North two days later to earn a berth at state while Hudson’s season ended with a record of 17-4-2 with two of those losses and a tie coming at the hands of Memorial.
The Raiders entered the match winners of 13 of their last 14, including back-to-back 8-0 victories over Chippewa Falls and Wausau West in the postseason.
But it was the Old Abes who struck first Thursday on a beautiful cross and header 10 minutes into the match.
“For whatever reason we started out slower than normal and they made us pay,” Hudson coach Steve Sollom said. “That goal was pivotal as it allowed them to play more defensive the rest of the game.”
Before Memorial shifted gears Hudson answered with a goal of its own but the play was ruled offsides, preserving the Old Abes 1-0 lead. Memorial spent the rest of the match clogging up the middle third of the field and preventing the Raiders from playing their typical possession game.
“Their grass field is pretty beat up this time of year and the ball bounces a lot, and that made possession even more difficult,” Sollom noted. “Our wings couldn't get a lot going on the sidelines so it made for a long afternoon for us.”
Sollom moved up one of the Raider’s best defenders, Nick Thompson, to forward in the second half in an effort to create more offense and it nearly worked as Thompson just missed a goal shortly after the move. But it also made Hudson more vulnerable on defense and Memorial scored off a long ball counter to make the final 2-0.
“It was a tough loss,” Sollom said. “Very disappointing end to the season as I think everyone was confident we would win going into the game and we'd been playing well.”