SPRING HILL — With revenge on their minds, Hudson’s players came into Booster Stadium Friday night dictating the pace of a very physical match.
The aggressiveness of the Cobras paid off as they handed Springstead its first shutout loss of the season, 2-0.
“(Springstead is) are a good opponent, very technically skilled,” Hudson coach Stephen Jones said. “I was real proud of how our girls hustled and played hard to get this one.”
Hudson (13-4-1, 10-2-1) vaulted past Springstead (11-2-2, 10-2-2) into second place in Class 3A, District 7. The Eagles won the first meeting 4-2, but without standout Haleigh McDuff (11 goals, 14 assists), out with a hamstring injury, the offense was a shell of its usual self.
McDuff injured her hamstring in Wednesday’s win over Crystal River and dressed for Friday’s contest. Though she did not start, she came in 20 minutes into the first half. After only one minute of action, she went back to the bench and did not return.
“We’re not going to push it with Haleigh,” Springstead coach Scott Wern said. “It’s more important that she be healthy for (the district tournament) than right now.”
The Cobras dominated possession, outshooting the home team 19-7. Many attempts were not on net, but the barrage finally paid off when senior Dominique Cirnigliaro lined a goal just under the crossbar from 25 yards. The shot went just under the outstretched arms of Springstead goalkeeper Jenna Booth (four saves).
Hudson keeper Brittany Wilkins (three saves) did not have to deal with many shots, but her ability to come out and play the ball proved valuable.
With just under two minutes left in regulation, the Eagles were trying to push the tempo, but Cirnigliaro stole the ball from Alexis Greenstein. Unassisted, the University of West Florida commit scored her 32nd goal of the season to go with 16 assists.
The physicality of the game seemed to catch Springstead off-guard. Hudson was called for numerous fouls, and even was dealt two yellow cards (Brittany Cirnigliaro, Dominique Cirnigliaro).
“Soccer’s always real physical,” Dominique Cirnigliaro said. “We worked hard and had the right mindset to get by them.”