by Frank Aceto
Associate Sports Editor
Hudson -- Moments after the whistle blew and everyone got settled in their seats, the Hudson boys soccer team faced a 1-0 deficit.
It was that kind of night for the Explorers.
Hudson fell to 5-4-1 and 1-1 in the Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division after losing a 2-0 decision to Mentor Sept. 17 at Hudson Memorial Stadium.
Things started on the wrong foot for the Explorers moments after the kickoff.
Jake Lombardo got free on a breakaway and beat Hudson goalkeeper Brendan O'Neil 37 seconds into the game. Evan Powell had the assist.
"That was a little bit of a shock," Explorers' first-year head coach Kelsey Resnick. "We didn't realize that they [the Cardinals] had that kind of speed on their team. He [Lombardo] is a big, strong player who might have been the fastest player on the field."
Fortunately for Hudson, the game didn't get out of hand after the early goal.
The Explorers' defense managed to survive against Mentor's speedy forwards and midfielders and Hudson's offense kept the Cardinals' defense on their heels too.
Both teams made short, precise passes on the ground and managed to play stellar defense. The Cardinals (6-0-3, 1-0-1) had a knack for cutting off the Explorers' passing lanes deep in their own box and Hudson drew a number of offsides calls by pushing its defenders up the field at just the right moment.
Mentor finally got some separation on the scoreboard when Jeff Davis headed Kurt Raney's corner kick into the net with 15 minutes, 51 seconds remaining in the game.
"They [the Explorers] put some nice passes together," Cardinals head coach Chris Payne said. "It was good that we caught them early.
"On the second goal, we had been working on corner kicks. Jeff is our tallest player and our highest leaper, so it made sense to get the ball to him in the middle."
Hudson may have had its best chance to score with a little more than three minutes left in the game.
Andrew Kern got free on a breakaway but his shot sailed just inches over the goal.
"Mentor was definitely the better team [Sept. 17]," Resnick said. "I thought the guys responded a little bit after the first goal. We were possessing without finding that final penetrating ball. We need to work on getting that killer ball in the final third."
O'Neil finished with five saves in the nets. Mentor had a 7-2 advantage in shots on goal. Both teams had four corner kicks.
The Explorers earned a 3-0 win in the junior varsity contest.
Hudson is scheduled to visit GlenOak Sept. 21 in Canton. Results were not available at press time.
The Explorers are set to visit Valley Division rival Strongsville Sept. 24. Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m.