by Frank Aceto
Associate Sports Editor
Granville -- As they exploded out of the gates and controlled just about every face-off, the Explorers seemed destined to pull off a huge upset against the state's greatest lacrosse program.
The Hudson boys lacrosse team's season came to an end after losing a 14-10 decision to Upper Arlington in an Ohio High School Lacrosse Association Division I state semifinal match. The contest took place June 4 at Denison University's Deeds Field in Granville.
In the first 12 minutes, the Explorers looked unbeatable.
Using its high-risk, high-reward run-and-gun offense, Hudson stunned the Golden Bears (20-2) with three unanswered goals.
One of the major reasons for the Explorers' fast start was sophomore midfielder Chris Motter's ability to win the face-offs.
Hudson also got a stellar performance from its defense, particularly junior goalkeeper Jake Krone, who made a handful of saves off shots from point-blank range in the opening quarter.
But Upper Arlington, winners of 14 state championships and 10 since 2000, eventually got its house in order.
The Golden Bears outscored the Explorers 5-1 in the second quarter and never relinquished the lead again.
"We came down and executed our game plan," Hudson head coach David Blue said. "We have to play our style and that is going up and down and running and gunning. We have to be creative. Unfortunately, we made some mistakes."
Since they play such a stylish, fast-paced offense that seems, at times, a little chaotic, the Explorers had 12 turnovers.
While Upper Arlington may not have won too many style points on this night, the Golden Bears, who lost the ball just three times, eventually got the best of Hudson, thanks to their efficient and aggressive approach.
For awhile, though, the Explorers (15-5) had the upper hand.
Senior midfielder Mick Mougey got Hudson on the board in a hurry when he found the net one minute into the game.
Nearly seven minutes later, senior attack Bo Lori, who had possession of the ball behind the Golden Bears' goal, found junior attack Gabe Vehar cutting to the net. Vehar one-timed Lori's pass into the goal to give the Explorers a 2-0 advantage.
With 1 minute, 12 seconds left in the first quarter, Lori rifled a shot into the net from roughly 15 yards away to make it 3-0 in favor of Hudson.
Despite this early onslaught, Upper Arlington didn't panic.
Cam Marsh finally got the Golden Bears on the board when he found the net 56 seconds into the second quarter.
That goal seemed to do wonders for Upper Arlington.
Justin Wick made it 3-2 with 5:39 left in the half and then Marsh struck again a little more than two minutes later to tie the game.
The Explorers appeared to regain the momentum when Lori's shot off one foot in traffic got past Upper Arlington goalkeeper Christian Carlin to give Hudson a 4-3 advantage.
The momentum turned out to be short-lived.
The Golden Bears scored two goals in a span of 43.3 seconds to take the lead for good.
Marsh scored his third goal of the half when his shot somehow slowly rolled into the net after a deflection with 49.4 left and then Danny Logan scorched a shot from long range to make it 5-4 with 6.1 left.
"The big thing that I kept reminding our guys was that it wasn't going to happen all at once," Upper Arlington head coach Ted Wolford said. "It was going to happen one at a time. Hudson is a great team with great athletes. We knew it was going to be a battle."
The Golden Bears made it 7-4 a little more than three minutes into the third quarter, thanks to goals by Wick and Kyle Roberts.
Hudson cut the margin to two on three different occasions, but the Explorers never closer.
Hudson certainly had its chances, thanks to its dominance on the face-offs. The Explorers won 19 of 27 draws and Motter won 17 of 25.
"We were able to stay in the game because we won face-offs," Blue said. "Chris did a great job all the way through."
Hudson got a huge scare when Lori injured his knee after scoring his second goal in the fourth quarter. That cut Upper Arlington's lead to 11-9. Not long after his injury, Lori returned to the field.
Unfortunately, the Golden Bears scored three unanswered goals after Lori's tally to put it away.
"They [the Golden Bears] did a nice job of controlling possession," Blue said. "We made some bad approach angles and they were able to get some shots in the lower corner."
Lori led Hudson with three goals and two assists. Vehar and Mougey each had two goals and Motter had one goal and 16 ground balls.
Junior midfielder Kyle Ator had one goal and one assist and junior attack Sam Gregory scored once for the Explorers.
Marsh led Upper Arlington with four goals and Justin Wick and Danny Logan each had three goals.
Kyle Roberts added two goals for the Golden Bears and Max Rankin and Jack Pardi each had one goal.
Hudson had a 38-24 advantage in ground balls. Upper Arlington outshot the Explorers 40-30.
The Golden Bears beat the Explorers in state tournament play for the third time since 2000. Upper Arlington defeated Hudson in the 2000 and 2007 championship games.
This was the Explorers' eighth trip to the state semifinals in the last 10 years. Not bad for a team that lost its first two games and started 3-3.
"When we were 3-3, I think a lot of people wrote us off," Blue said. "We challenged the kids to step up. Besides the opening game [a 9-2 loss to Olentangy Liberty on the road], we lost three games by one goal. We play a lot of kids and I'm proud of the way they have developed."
Blue said goodbye to Lori, Mougey and fellow seniors Logan Malson, Zach Nye, Cameron Haggerty, Erik Lindroth, Jacob Jesionek, Rudy Ohlen, Brent Zubal and Seth Wagner.
"Our 10 seniors are a great group of kids," Blue said. "I think the most important thing about the seniors is that their grade point averages are ridiculous. I'm almost certain all of them are Scholar Athletes."