by Frank Aceto
Associate Sports Editor
Hudson -- After a solid first half of the season, Hudson head girls lacrosse coach Joya Mitchell decided to scrap a major part of her game plan for something completely different.
It's a process, but it looks like the new strategy could be critical to the Lady Explorers' success down the road.
Hudson improved to 6-5 on the season after posting a 10-8 victory over a pesky Rocky River team April 26 at Hudson Memorial Stadium.
The Lady Explorers, a man-to-man defensive team throughout the season, recently decided to switch to a zone defense. Although Hudson lost an 8-7 decision to Hathaway Brown April 24 in Shaker Heights, Mitchell believes the strategy will pay dividends down the road.
"It seems to be working well," she said. "We face-guarded No. 12 [Rocky River's Elise Riemenschneider] in the last 15 minutes. Ally Prosser did a great job against her."
Riemenschneider scored once in the last 15 minutes.
Fortunately for the Lady Explorers, the free-possession goal took place with 2 seconds left in the game and Hudson up 10-8. Riemenschneider finished with three goals and one assist.
The Lady Explorers scored four consecutive goals in the first half to take a 4-1 lead with 9 minutes, 49 seconds left in the first half after Macy Tratner found the net.
But the Pirates (4-3-1) didn't back down.
Rocky River scored two goals 62 seconds into the second half to tie the game at five.
The two teams then traded goals before Hudson eventually put it away, thanks to goals by Maddie Murphy and Julia Finkenthal late in the game.
"We were subbing a little bit and we're still working on our defense," Mitchell said. "We spent two hours working on our zone [April 21]. Our defense has struggled a little bit, but now I think it's starting to click."
Jackie Kisthardt led the Lady Explorers with three goals and two assists and Maria Russell added three goals.
Annie Lori and Julia Finkenthal also scored once for Hudson.
Kasey Thom finished with two assists and Murphy, Kiley Merrill and Kayla Miller each had one assist for the Lady Explorers. Hudson goalkeeper Sarah Price made nine saves.
Andrea Chiviles had three goals for the Pirates (4-3-1) and Sara V. Connelly and Anna Russell each had one goal. Rocky River's goalkeeper, Sarah E. Connelly, made 12 saves.
The Lady Explorers also earned a commanding 13-4 in the junior varsity game.
Prior to the games, the two teams celebrated "Pink Out Day." The Lady Explorers wore pinks shirts during warm-ups and baskets, baked goods and other items were sold.
Donations went to the Stefanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer Research. Spielman, the late wife of former Ohio State linebacker Chris Spielman, died of breast cancer in 2009.
"We started this last year and since we got such a huge response, we decided to do it again," Mitchell said. "So many people's lives have been affected by this disease. We decided to donate some money for each goal we scored. It was a good day."
Hudson also lost an 8-7 decision to Hathaway Brown April 24 in Shaker Heights.
The Lady Explorers were scheduled to host Medina April 28 at Hudson Memorial Stadium before heading to Shaker Heights April 29. Results of those games were not available at press time.
They are set to visit Cleveland Heights May 1 at 6:45 p.m.