by Frank Aceto
Associate Sports Editor
They left Columbus without a win.
But the Lady Explorers proved that the road to the state title may once again go through the 44236 area code.
The Hudson field hockey team, the 2015 state runner-up, took on two final four teams from a year ago at Columbus Academy in Gahanna.
The Lady Explorers lost 1-0 to Columbus Academy in overtime Sept. 16. They also lost to Cincinnati Ursuline Academy 5-3 Sept. 17.
While Hudson, which fell to 5-2 in 2016, would have loved to have defeated two state powers, it made a lasting impression on its coach despite the two setbacks.
"We had a great weekend with high competition," Lady Explorers head coach Laurie Wilkins said. "We were proud of the girls for the effort and skill."
Against Columbus Academy, which Hudson defeated 1-0 in overtime in a 2015 state semifinal contest, the Lady Explorers gave up a goal in the last four minutes of the seven-on-seven overtime.
Hudson had eight penalty corners and seven shots on goal. Lady Explorers' goalkeeper Kelsey Lowman made 13 saves.
"This game was a blood bath and hard-fought battle," Wilkins said. "This game could have gone either way.
"We are maintaining our competitive play with the top teams in Ohio."
Against Ursuline, Sarah Keller scored twice and McKenna Thomas scored once.
Hudson had 23 shots on goal and 14 penalty corners.
"We gave them a fight in the second half," Wilkins said. "It was very unfortunate that we couldn't find the net more."
It is realistic to say the Lady Explorers could meet one or both of these talented teams again down the road.
If that does happen, Wilkins feels really good about her team's chances.
"Overall, I am pleased with the fight that Hudson put up this weekend," she said. "The score says one thing, but our grit and heart say another."
The Lady Explorers were scheduled to host Orange (Pepper Pike) Sept. 19 at Hudson Memorial Stadium. Results were not available at press time.
Hudson is set to visit backyard rival Western Reserve Academy Sept. 21 at 4:30 p.m.
The Lady Explorers are scheduled to host Laurel (Shaker Heights) Sept. 26 at 5 p.m.