Hudson -- It's a safe bet that it was inevitable.
When it comes to field hockey in Northeast Ohio, just about everyone knows the road to the state tournament goes through Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown.
And once again, Hudson will try to close that road.
The second-seeded Lady Explorers earned a berth in a Division I district semifinal game after posting a 3-0 victory over seventh-seeded Stow-Munroe Falls Oct. 18 at Scott Malson Field.
The fifth-seeded Lady Blazers advanced with a 2-1 victory over third-seeded Rocky River Magnificat.
Hathaway Brown, a perennial state power, has broken the Lady Explorers' hearts in tournament play a number of times.
But this could be Hudson's best chance to unseat the mighty Lady Blazers. The Lady Explorers (13-2) have won 12 straight games since a 3-0 loss to Columbus Thomas Worthington Aug. 31.
And which game started the big winning streak?
That would be Hathaway Brown. Hudson posted a 2-0 win over the Lady Blazers Sept. 3.
The two teams were scheduled to play Oct. 22 at Malson Field. Results were not available at press time.
The winner is set to play the Shaker Heights-Toledo Maumee Valley Country Day winner in a Division I district final.
The game is scheduled to take place Oct. 26 at Hawken School in Gates Mills. Game time is set for 7 p.m.
"We're just trying to take it game by game," Lady Explorers head coach Jen Haney said. "It's going to be emotional and the girls are going to play their hearts out. That's all you can ask for as a coach."
Stow, which lost a 5-0 decision to Hudson earlier in the season, proved to be a good tune-up for the Lady Explorers.
Although Hudson controlled the ball for much of the afternoon, the Lady Explorers had very little room to operate, thanks to the Lady Bulldogs' defense.
Nevertheless, Hudson's array of offensive playmakers were able to find just enough holes in Stow's wall of defenders.
Senior midfielder/forward Erin Hoover got the Lady Explorers on the board when she scored on a penalty corner with 26 minutes, 28 seconds left in the first half. Junior forward Marybeth Slager had the assist.
But Hudson didn't score again the rest of the half.
"Stow put everybody inside the circle, which made it very difficult to move the ball," Haney said. "I was really impressed with their [the Lady Bulldogs'] goalkeeper [sophomore Kayla Cartwright]."
Haney also thought the playoff jitterbugs may have gotten the best of her players.
For a while, at least.
"I think they played with nerves," Haney said. "They played tentative, but they figured it out in the second half and I was so proud of them. We got back to playing our speed and our level and we played as a team."
Hoover gave Hudson a little more breathing room with 22:32 left in the match.
Stow was called for a penalty when a ball that was heading toward the Lady Bulldogs' goal made contact with a Stow player.
As a result, Hoover was awarded a penalty stroke and Hoover delivered a low liner to the left side of the goal.
Slager putting the finishing touches on the win when she tipped Hoover's shot off a penalty corner with 15:42 remaining in the game.
Hudson had an 11-2 advantage in penalty corners and outshot Stow 14-5.
Lady Bulldogs goalkeeper Kayla Cartwright finished with 10 saves. Lady Explorers' keeper Jackie Kisthardt stopped five shots.