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by Frank Aceto
Associate Sports Editor
Hudson -- They committed some careless turnovers and they struggled with draw controls.
In the end, none of that mattered to the Lady Explorers.
That's because they had Jackie Kisthardt on their side.
Thanks to Kisthardt's four goals and two assists, the Hudson girls lacrosse team made a stellar 2014 debut after posting a thrilling 8-6 victory over Rocky River Magnificat April 1 at Hudson Memorial Stadium.
The junior midfielder/attack beat Lady Blue Streaks' goalkeeper Olivia Stafford to tie the game at six with 2 minutes, 34 seconds left.
She added the go-ahead goal with 1:17 left when she outran two Magnificat defenders to a loose ball and then beat Stafford on a one-on-one opportunity to give the Lady Explorers a 7-6 lead.
"We just kept focusing and never gave up," Kisthardt said. "We just tried to stay as positive as possible.
"If someone missed a pass, we tried to encourage that person to get it the next time."
There were some missed passes, along with many turnovers and a fair share of careless penalties by Hudson. As a result, the Lady Explorers (1-0), trailed 3-0 with 13:34 left in the first half.
Hudson also lost 15 of 18 draws. That kept the Lady Explorers' offense from getting in rhythm.
But Hudson, which lost an 11-6 decision to Magnificat last year, made all the critical plays when they were needed most.
"It took us a little bit of time to get us moving," Hudson head coach Joya Mitchell said.
"We haven't had a lot of practice time, but we had a good practice [March 31]. They got it together. Overall, I was happy with the way the girls played."
Despite Kisthardt's heroics, the Lady Blue Streaks did not go away quietly. Magnificat made a charge immediately after the Lady Explorers took the lead.
Fortunately for Hudson, that's when senior defender Olivia Wamelink came to the rescue.
Deep in the Lady Explorers' end, Wamelink forced a crucial turnover with approximately 50 seconds left. Eventually, the ball went to junior attack Annie Lori, who put the icing on the cake with a goal with 3 seconds remaining.
"That was really good defense by Olivia," Mitchell said. "We need to work on ground balls and transitions, but it was a promising start to the season."
Senior attack Maria Russell finished with two goals and two assists and sophomore midfielder Maddie Murphy added one goal and one assist for Hudson, which got eight saves from senior goalie Sarah Price.
Russell gave the Lady Explorers' their first lead (5-4) of the game when she scored with 5:01 left.
Brooke McQuinn, who scored to give the Lady Blue Streaks a 6-5 advantage with 3:31 remaining, and Jillian Zavoda each scored two goals.
Bridget Moroney and Emily Beegan each scored once for Magnificat. Mary Kate Durkin added an assist for the Lady Blue Streaks (1-1).
The two teams combined for eight goals in the final seven minutes.
The Lady Explorers turned a 4-2 deficit into a 5-4 lead with three goals in nearly two minutes.
Last year, Hudson finished 7-10.
The Lady Explorers, who earned an 11-5 win in the junior varsity contest, don't expect to endure another losing season.
"I think this win sums up our season," Kisthardt said. "We lost to them [the Lady Blue Streaks] last year, but this is a new season and a new team."
Hudson was scheduled to visit Chagrin Falls April 5. Results were not available at press time.
The Lady Explorers are set to visit Massillon Jackson April 8 at 5:30 p.m.