by Michael leonard | Sports Editor
By the end of the 2012 season, the Hudson girls soccer team was fielding one of the youngest squads in Ohio.
By the time the playoffs arrived, more than half of the Lady Explorers' starting lineup was freshmen.
However, all that youth didn't stop Hudson from a very good postseason run.
The Lady Explorers reached the district final before being eliminated 1-0 by Solon on an own goal.
Hudson finished the season at 10-4-4, including 0-2-3 in the Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division.
All those freshmen are back, so it's little wonder why fifth-year Hudson coach Costa Kalorides (49-16-11) is bullish on his team's future.
"That was a little more impressive last year," Kalorides said.
"I feel that if we continue to grow and develop, we have the chance to be competitive with everyone on our schedule.
"The challenge for us is to avoid complacency," Kalorides said. "Do we have enough savvy and experience? Or are we going to deal with some of the growing pains we were able to avoid last year?"
While Hudson was very young, it did lose four seniors to graduation in Kelly Gough, who plans to continue her academic and soccer careers at Baldwin-Wallace University in Berea, Erin Watkins, Lauren Chilcott and Maggie Osthues.
Gough's loss in particular has Kalorides fretting a bit.
"We had Kelly Gough anchoring our team and our defense," Kalorides said. "That's what made it cohesive last year. Our biggest concern is … finding a cohesive unit on defense. We're going into an era for me where I don't have an anchor back there. Kelly leaves a big hole defensively."
Kalorides jokes that not having a team that locked down on defense might offend his Greek soccer heritage, noting the Lady Explorers might "very Dutch soccer oriented," meaning his team will lean on its offense, especially in the early season.
While Hudson will start the year working from a 4-5-1 formation, Kalorides made it clear he expects to make adjustments.
As always, the Valley Division is one of the toughest for girls soccer in the state with the Lady Explorers joining Solon, Mentor, Strongsville, Medina and North Royalton.
"Obviously, the Valley Division has great depth," Kalorides said. "I think to the credit of the league, the River and the Lake have been competitive as well. It helps us kind of see where we're at."
Hudson's non-division schedule will continue to be rigourous, including a visit from defending Division I state champion Perrysburg in October.
Kalorides said the versatility of his squad is one of its strengths. However, one position likely will be set in stone for the next three years.
Sophomore goalkeeper Sarah L'Hommedieu seized the starting goaltender position with both hands as a freshman. This year, Kalorides said she's taking on a leadership role.
"She's continuing to develop with her vocal command," Kalorides said. "We're looking for even more out of her."
Senior captain Margo Camp will serve as backup goalkeeper, though her appearances in net will be rare.
With Gough gone, a cadre of players is looking to fill the hole at center back, beginning with sophomore Maddy Waters, who moves back from central midfield.
Senior Erin O'Neil also will get a look at center back. Sophomore Victoria Breeden will get a look after playing all four defensive spots last year. Junior Taylor Koscho also is in the mix.
At outside defense, sophomore Allie Dunne is back at left back after starting last year. Sophomore Molly Killeen started last year as well. She also is expected to see time at right back along with Breeden.
The Lady Explorers' midfield will likely be anchored by senior captain Kate Waters.
Waters' presence at central midfield will free up sophomore dynamo Alex Wright to play a more attacking role.
Wright was one of Hudson's top scorers last season and brings a non-stop motor to the midfield.
"She's not that big of a person, but she will play everywhere on the field," Kalorides said.
Senior Emma Wallace and junior Alyssa Pamer also will see time at central midfield.
Sophomore Erin Torrence showed her speed and attacking prowess as a freshman. She likely will get the starting nod at one of the outside midfield.
Senior Katie Maggio, junior Chelsea Reis and sophomore Sara Kosler all are set for time at outside midfield.
However, Kalorides said freshman Kim Ito most likely start on the outside this season.
"She is very technical and she has a good pace about her," Kalorides said. "She give us a quite a bit."
In the sole forward spot, Kalorides said Camp and Wright will see the bulk of the time.
"There's a lot of firepower and we have a lot of competition at those spots," Kalorides said. "We've got a lot of players who can play a lot of spots. We have some diversity in what our players can do."
Kalorides welcomes a new crop of assistant coaches this fall. Bo Wilson will coach Hudson's junior varsity 'A' squad, while Tony Davis and Cassandra Gouge will coach the JV 'B' side.
Kalorides notes the majority of Hudson's home games are scheduled to take place at Memorial Stadium this year, including the season opener Aug. 19 at 7 p.m. against Shaker Heights. Whitehouse Anthony Wayne is set to visit Aug. 24 at 3 p.m.