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Girls lacrosse seeks return to state level

By FRANK ACETO Associate Sports Editor Published: April 5, 2017 12:00 AM
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They got back to elite status after a five-year hiatus.

Now, the Lady Explorers are looking for more in 2017.

The Hudson girls lacrosse team hopes to return to the state competition after reaching the Final Four last season.

The Lady Explorers finished 15-5 after losing to eventual Division I state champion Upper Arlington 17-7 in the state semifinals.

Hudson second-year head coach Persy Sample was certainly pleased to see her team reach the state semifinals for the first time since 2011.

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She certainly hopes the Lady Explorers' performance wasn't a one-year fluke.

"Our main goal is to go back to the state tournament this year and perform better than we did last year," she said.

Hudson certainly has the talent to make another run, but the Lady Explorers lost some key players from a year ago.

Leading this list is attack Kasey Thom, who has continued her academic and lacrosse careers at Mercer University in Macon, Ga.

Other graduates include Ally Prosser (defense), Kaitlyn Hill (defender), who is playing at Miami University in Oxford, Julia Finkenthal (attack), Christina Zeleznik (defender), Paige Edwards (attack) and Ellie Stiles (attack), Leah Ambroziak (midfield).

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Fortunately, there still is plenty of talent go around in Hudson. Now it's a matter of making everyone come together on the same page.

"Our expectations are to mold each player into the best player/athlete they can be, as well as making a cohesive team with all of the new players we have added this year," Sample said.

The Lady Explorers will be led by eight seniors. They are attacks Arianna Bankovich, Corinne Hunt and Maddie Valko; defenders Shelby Johnson and Macy Trattner; midfielders Sarah Keller and Elle Marquez; and goalie Addie Gojdics.

Hudson also has seven juniors returning to the mix.

They are defenders Leah Graf, Avery Neher and Eliza Podoll; midfielders Julia Stiles, Piper Trattner and Elizabeth Hinkle; and goalie Kristin Potts.

Four sophomores also hope to make a splash this spring.

They are attacks Kendall Paltani and Tyler Vidmar; defender Elizabeth Mitalski; and midfielder Mary Castrigano.

Rounding out the squad are freshman attacks Paige Palumbo, defender Mia Becker and midfielder Sarah Hinkle.

Sample's varsity assistant is Sarra Qadri. The head junior varsity coach is Felicia Guadagni. Her assistants are Kendra Beverley and Matt Biederman.

The Lady Explorers' goal is to keep their focus at all times, according to Sample.

"Our motto is persistence," she said. "We plan on staying determined day in and day out to make sure we can reach our main goal."

Hudson has many upperclassmen on the roster. The Lady Explorers also have their share of youth.

"Our strength and weakness come hand in hand," Sample said. "We are a young team with a handful of veteran expectations and hopes that I have for our younger new players.

"It can be a weakness because our new players haven't played in varsity-level games yet, but again, I have the confidence in them that they will rise to the occasion and handle the pressure that comes their way."

Sample believes her offense has the potential to light up the scoreboard.

"Since we didn't lose too much of our offense, we are now able to build on the great success we had last year," Sample said. "Adding a couple of players this year will be able to help us take our offense to the next level, which is really exciting."

The Lady Explorers also hope to continue to be a defensive juggernaut in 2016.

"Defensively, we were a powerhouse last year," Sample said. "This year, we are working to get back to where we were and batter. It has been a focus for us these past weeks of practice and I think our girls are finally starting to drink the Kool-Aid, which is aggressive defense Sarra wants and expects them to play."

Hudson is scheduled to make its 2017 debut against Everest Academy (Mich.) April 5 at Hudson Memorial Stadium. Play is set to begin at 7 p.m.

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