by Michael Leonard
Hudson -- On more than one occasion, Hudson head girls soccer coach Costa Kalorides has called the Division I Kent district tournament the toughest in the state for girls soccer.
Based on the final Ohio Scholastic Soccer Coaches Association poll, it is very difficult to disagree with the veteran head coach.
After the seventh-ranked Lady Explorers defeated top-ranked Twinsburg in the district semifinals, they had to face second-ranked Walsh Jesuit in the district final.
Getting past the defending Division II state champions proved too much for the Lady Explorers .
The Warriors made it 38 straight games without a loss as Walsh got goals on each side of halftime to defeat Hudson 2-0 Oct. 26 at Hudson Memorial Stadium.
Walsh improved to 16-0-3 on the year and advanced to the Division I regional semifinals. The Lady Explorers finished the season at 14-3-2.
Both teams had to contend with 30 mile-per-hour wind gusts coming out of the north, but Walsh Jesuit head coach Dino McIntyre said it didn't have a huge effect on his team.
"I thought it would be a big factor, but it wasn't," McIntyre said. "Every pass we made was educated. We kept everything along the ground, so it couldn't be affected by the wind as much.
"Hudson is an excellent, well-coached team. Unfortunately for them, we were on. Every dribbling ball on the field, we got to."
By contrast, Kalorides said his team was hindered by the wind a bit as they had to play into it in the first half.
"The first half was a little difficult for us," Kalorides said. "I think we played hard, but we were not as efficient as we should be. We had some chances to tie things up, but couldn't covert in front of the goal."
While both teams had early looks at the goal, Walsh got the breakthrough.
The Warriors' first goal came in the 13th minute when midfielder Jessica Hlosek dropped a ball to midfielder Maddy Anzelc at the top of the box.
Anzelc rifled a shot into the corner of the net, giving Hudson goalkeeper Sarah L'Hommedieu no chance.
"That's always big to get an early goal," McIntyre said. "You've got two speeds in a game. The first is the speed you have right after your name is announced. The second speed is the one you have after you're down 1-0 or 2-0. I told the girls we needed to be at the second speed from the start."
"We got punished with the two goals on some mistakes we made," Kalorides said. "It was one of those things where we had chances to clear the ball and didn't."
Walsh maintained its 1-0 lead at halftime and doubled its advantage shortly thereafter.
In the 44th minute, Warriors' midfielder Alex Kithcart made a run along the sideline and sent a centering ball into the box. Christina Trickett collected the ball, turned and blasted it into the net at close range.
Walsh finished with an 8-3 edge in shots on goal. L'Hommedieu finished with six saves, while Walsh goalie Lauren Demarchi had three.
McIntryre praised his defense for limiting the Lady Explorers' chances in front of the net.
"Their top four players are top-level players," McIntrye said. "Our defense and the three midfielders in front of them did a great job."
Despite the loss, Kalorides said his team had a solid year.
"It was a productive season," Kalorides said. "You would like to send the seniors out with a district championship, but only one team in Ohio [in Division I] is going to end the year with a win. I would not be surprised to see Walsh in a state semifinal or state title game."
Hudson will lose five seniors to graduation in Kate Waters, Erin O'Neil, Margo Camp, Emma Wallace and Katie Maggio.
"We are young, but even with our youth, we're going to miss what our seniors brought to the team this year," Kalorides said. "Every season is different."