HUDSON - The 2012 season on the surface was a good one for the Howland girls soccer team and first-year coach Joe Megyesi.
The Tigers suffered only two losses in the regular season and tied for the All-American Conference, American Division title, and they advanced further in the tournament than last season's sectional final finish.
While that's all well and good, Howland's season ended in disappointment Monday against Hudson in a Division I district semifinal. The Tigers threw everything they had at the Explorers, but the Hudson defense held firm in a 1-0 victory at Hudson Memorial Stadium's Murdough Field.
Tribune Chronicle / Dave Dermer
Howland’s Jenna Dorchock (25) has the ball poked away by Hudson’s Victoria Breeden, right, while Dorchock was running to the Hudson goal. The Tigers lost, 1-0.
"We start seven freshmen, so it's really a learning process for us," Hudson coach Costa Kolarides said. "They have a tendency to play a little hesitant or pull back a little bit. Once we started applying pressure I think we were able to create some turnovers and create some goal-scoring opportunities on those."
Howland's Seyla Perez had several good scoring chances in the first half, but the Tigers' leading scorer with 21 goals was unable to get the ball past freshman goalkeeper Sarah L'Hommedieu. Perez shot wide twice and L'Hommedieu made another pair of saves on Perez, including once on a free kick, all within the first 14 minutes of the game.
"We haven't lost for a long time. The girls don't want to hear anything but to win," Megyesi said. "To be perfectly honest, in this particular league, we have really tough competition. He thought we could match with them, and I think we did overall, but one goal and that was basically it."
Hudson (10-3-4) had a good scoring chance with 14 minutes left in the first half as Margo Camp took a shot that Howland keeper Emily Price knocked away. The Exporers' Erin Torrence attempted to put in the rebound, but Price recovered to clear the ball.
With the teams scoreless in the second half, Hudson's pressure began paying dividends. Camp secured control of the ball deep in Howland's end, passing to Kathryn Waters approximately 30 yards from the goal. Waters, a junior, took a high shot that eluded a leaping Price and went into the top-right corner of the goal and a 1-0 lead with 31:51 to play.
"I was taking it outside and I saw an opening in the middle," Waters said. "I took it to the middle and I took a shot. It feels great (to win). We have a lot of young players on the team, so I'm really proud of everybody stepping up and making it this far."
"I thought it was a great individual effort," Kolarides said. "She got the ball played out to her to the wing, kind of isolated the defender out wide, faked her outside, cut inside, and hit just an outstanding shot. You don't see a lot of those during a season, so when they happen they're pretty special."
Megyesi said Waters made a great shot, but his defense didn't play the way they should have.
"That was a beautifully-placed goal up in the corner," Megyesi said. "The biggest thing we didn't do, is my defense didn't challenge. You can't turn around and allow them to take shots from 15, 20 yards out."
Trailing by a goal, Howland got more aggressive, which upset Kalorides. He complained to the referee about what he felt was overaggressive tackling, earning a yellow card with 18:32 when Camp was injured and had to leave the game. Kolarides argued some more and was issued a second yellow card with 5:19 left. He was ejected from the game, but will be able to coach Hudson's next tournament contest.
"The referee's just one of those guys that wants to be the center of attention in those games," Kolarides said. "That's a shame, because we're all here for the kids. When we're talking to protect the kids on tackles and stuff that he's not calling, it's a shame that he has to talk more than blow his whistle.
"You can't control refereeing. Usually the refereeing we get is very quality. I'd have to say that was pretty poor quality. Pretty selfish refereeing. When you have a cowboy referee like that that wants to make it all about himself, it really is unfair to the rest of the people."
Howland (16-3) worked hard in an effort to score the equalizer, but the Tigers couldn't penetrate Hudson's tight defense. Perez and Jordan Entler had solid shots on goal, but L'Hommedieu kept them off the board. Time wound down and Howland's season came to an end.
"I'm happy for the girls, because me being a first-year coach, we got together real well," Megyesi said. "I'm happy. I wish we could've moved on, but things happen."