by Frank Aceto
Associate Sports Editor
Jen Haney appears to have all the pieces in place.
Now it's just a matter of being able to put the puzzle together.
The Lady Explorers feature an arsenal of weapons in 2013, according to Haney, who has guided Hudson to a 134-44-12 record during her 13 years as head coach.
Last year was a bit of a struggle for the Lady Explorers. They finished 8-9-1 after losing a 3-1 decision to Shaker Heights in a Division I regional semifinal contest.
Hudson lost four seniors from 2012. They are Becca Patno (back), Hannah Alvey (midfielder/forward), Elise Agnor (back) and Sarah Schroeder (center midfielder), who missed the entire season because of a knee injury.
But Haney doesn't seem to be the least bit concerned.
Six seniors return to the roster and there is plenty of young talent too.
Once she figures out where these pieces fit, Haney believes the sky is the limit.
"We can definitely be successful," she said. "Our group of seniors have been here since they were freshmen and sophomores."
One of those seniors will be playing on the collegiate level.
Kiley Merrill, a right wing last year, made a verbal commitment to continue her academic and field hockey careers at Miami University in Oxford. Merrill, who had knee surgery during the offseason, could see action at either midfield or forward spots.
"We're very impressed with Kiley," Haney said. "Her strength is back and her endurance is awesome. She has fantastic stick skills."
Two other seniors also expect to play on the collegiate level. Forward Maria Russell has drawn interest from The Ohio State University and Ohio University in Athens. Erin Hoover has drawn interest from Ohio State and Yale University.
Russell is a three-year varsity player who can make things happen near the goal.
"Maria is very strong offensively," Haney said. "She's fast, skillful and good in the circle."
Hoover can play "anywhere on the field," according to Haney.
"Erin is a college-bound athlete," she said. "She's skillful and fast."
Other seniors include defender Elizabeth Bashian, utility player Krista Jones and midfielder/defender Jackie Ulmer.
"Elizabeth was a midfielder last year," Haney said. "She's a strong player. Krista has been a midfielder and defender. She also works well as a forward. Jackie is unbelievable. She's the best defensive player around. She's strong, skillful and a very good leader."
Six juniors also expect to make an impact.
Goalkeeper Jackie Kisthardt has emerged as a formidable presence between the pipes.
"I can't say enough good things about Jackie," Haney said. "She didn't want to be a keeper early on. She has taken the position and ran with it."
Midfielder/forward Olivia Green became a strong presence on the varsity squad by the end of last season.
"Olivia works really hard," Haney said. "We're looking for her to give us a spark. We pulled her up just for the tournament last year."
Forward Meredith Pinkerton returns after taking last year off.
"Meredith is an interesting story," Haney said. "She didn't play last year because she was training for a pentathlon. She's a super athlete.
The rest of the juniors include defender Hannah Collins and forwards Marybeth Slager and Cate Cronan.
"Hannah is strong, fast and smart in the backfield," Haney said. "She's a great player. Marybeth keeps the practices light-hearted. She's a fun kid who is very skillful. Cate is new to the varsity team."
Hudson has plenty of promise for the future, thanks to its eight sophomores.
Jordan Nenni, who can play multiple positions, forward Ashley McLelland, midfielder Erica Pinto and defender Laura Pinover earned significant minutes as freshmen.
"Jordan was a starter last year," Haney said. "Her endurance level is outstanding. We can count on her to do anything on the field. Ashley is outstanding. She's fast and is so coachable.
"Erica will be a top-of-the-line player. Laura wowed us last year. She has a tiny body, but she's fearless."
The rest of the sophomore class features Madison Murphy, Katharine Murray, Finn Madden and Eden Janesch.
"Madison is like our little Christmas present," Haney said. "She's open-minded and has great stick skills.
"Katharine is a Jackie Ulmer clone. She is tall, lanky and has a long defensive reach."
The lone freshman is Eliza Green, who is Olivia Green's sister.
"Eliza is physically ready for the varsity level," Haney said. "She will see some time in the midfield and the backfield."
Haney's varsity assistant is fourth-year coach Laurie Wilkins. Former Hudson standout Katie Margevich enters his first year as the team's junior varsity coach.
The Lady Explorers are scheduled to make their season debut against Cleveland Heights Aug. 20 at Malson Field. Game time is set for 4:30 p.m.