by Frank Aceto
Associate Sports Editor
It has been quite awhile.
Eleven years to be exact. In fact, the current head coach was a member of the team when it last happened.
"The district title is the first stepping stone," second-year Hudson head boys soccer coach Kelsey Resnick said.
"You're always thinking about it in the back of your head. It has been an unbelievably long time for a school like Hudson not to get hardware on that level."
The Explorers won that elusive district title in 2003 when they reached the Division I state semifinals.
Like many of those years after 2003, the Explorers came close, but not close enough.
Last year, Hudson lost a heartbreaking 2-1 decision in overtime to Aurora in a district semifinal contest.
The Explorers, who finished 10-5-3 overall, took second in the Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division.
Mentor, the reigning Division I state runner-up, won the Valley Division title. Hudson finished 4-1 in the Valley Division, which also includes Twinsburg, Medina, Solon, and Strongsville.
"I expect Mentor and Medina to be a little down," Resnick said. "I like our chances."
The Explorers lost nine seniors from a year ago. One of them was starting goalkeeper Charlie Sockol, who is playing at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh.
Other graduates included goalkeeper Benjamin Blechman, defenders Ethan Cravener, Jacob Jesionek, Kurt Kalina, Ryan Mahan and Dalton Rowell; forward Chris Koscho; and midfielder Nicholas Woodward.
Fortunately for Resnick, last year's team was junior-heavy. And now he has 13 seniors to lead the way.
"There are going to be a lot of seniors all over the field," Resnick said. "They have been in and around varsity for the last few years. They know what we're looking for."
Resnick has four talented forwards. They are Trevor Colazzo, who was one of the team's top scorers last year, Andrew Kern, Chris Ito and Matt Wallace.
The midfield is led by Jack Sullivan, another one of the team's top scorers in 2013, Dan Brady and Colton Rowell. Sullivan was the team's center midfielder last year.
The defense features Jack Rauch, Michael Charlton, a center back in 2013, Daniel Fetsko and Johnny Dudinec.
Resnick also has two senior goalkeepers in Taehan Lee and Jackson Fitch.
"Trevor Colazzo, Jack Sullivan and Matt Wallace are our captains this year," Resnick said. "They bring a little bit of different leadership styles to the team.
"Most guys can relate to them because they bring a wealth of knowledge, an understanding of the program and hard-working competitiveness."
The junior class features midfielders Drew Saxer and Alex Baker and goalkeeper Brendan O'Neil, who got several starts in the nets last year.
Rounding out the varsity squad are sophomore defenders Jacob Wolanske, Larry Meehan and Alex Vuksta.
Resnick's varsity assistant coaches are Tynan Smith, who also will serve as the junior varsity 'A' coach, Greg McCoy and Brian Babb. The JV 'B' coach is longtime coach Todd Sidle.
Smith, a Hiram College graduate who played for Cleveland St. Ignatius' state title team in 2008, replaces Dan Bestic, who left the team for personal reasons.
Don't expect fans to fall asleep during games.
The Explorers plan to treat the ball like a yo-yo with short passes all over the field.
"The most important thing in any sport is to have fun," Resnick said. "If you rely on one counter for 80 minutes, it's not a lot of fun. I want the kids to enjoy this great game that leads to an entertaining product. If you can do that, the results will follow."
And Hudson's seniors are fully aware of their team's drought. The 13 seniors want to lead the team back to greatness, which has been elusive for more than a decade.
"The seniors, especially guys like Kern, Trevor and Sully, who have been four-year lettermen, want to win a district title," Resnick said. "They feel like they owe it to the program."
The Explorers are scheduled to open the 2014 season at Northeast Ohio Conference rival Brunswick Aug. 19 at 7 p.m.