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Lacrosse reaches Region 2 semis

By FRANK ACETO Associate Sports Editor Published: May 24, 2017 12:00 AM
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HUDSON -- When it comes to Northeast Ohio boys lacrosse, two teams have stood above the rest throughout the 21st century.

That would be Hudson and Cleveland St. Ignatius.

While those two storied programs won't be playing for a regional title, they will meet again after dominating performances in the regional quarterfinals.

Second-seeded Hudson advanced to the Division I, Region 2 semifinals after posting a commanding 17-5 victory over seventh-seeded Brecksville-Broadview Heights May 20 at Hudson Memorial Stadium.

The third-seeded Wildcats advanced with a 16-9 win over sixth-seeded Shaker Heights.

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The Explorers (14-5), who defeated St. Ignatius 8-4 during the regular season, is scheduled to entertain the Wildcats May 24 at Hudson Memorial Stadium. Play is set to begin at 6 p.m.

Hudson will certainly be looking for some revenge.

In a 2016 regional final contest, St. Ignatius took it to the Explorers to the tune of a 16-2 win.

The two teams have met a number of times in regional play over the years. There have been a least a few times when the Wildcats have spoiled Hudson's stellar seasons.

"They're our rival," longtime Explorers head coach David Blue said of the Wildcats. "In the 2000s, we won those battles, but in the last few years, they've beaten us. I'm sure they're looking for revenge."

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If Hudson, which has won four straight matches, continues to light up the scoreboard, St. Ignatius will certainly have its hands full.

The Bees (12-4) certainly did even though the match was highly competitive in the early stages of the match.

But like it has done in a number of matches throughout the season, the Explorers, who got 31 players on the field, simply had an extra gear Brecksville could not match.

Hudson scored four unanswered goals in the final five-plus minutes of the first half to take a 9-3 lead and dominated the rest of the way.

"We knew we had a big-time depth advantage," Blue said. "For the last several years, we've peaked as the playoffs started. This year, we're peaking during the playoff season. That's a good thing."

Anthony Rightnour led the way with five goals and two assists and Joe Graf, who earned the game ball for his efforts, had three goals.

"I told Anthony to move his feet before the game," Blue said. "He did a great job of finding the seams."

Angelo Donatelli and Kevin Callahan each had two goals for Hudson and Patrick Burdett had one goal and one assist.

Nick Advent, Adam Dunne, Jack Burdett and Brady Ludewig also scored one goal apiece for the Explorers, who had a 43-20 advantage in shots and a 48-27 edge in ground balls.

Max Charlton had two assists and Blake Lori, Max Cole, Cole Miller, Danny Saxon, Merrick Widdoes and Matt Restifo, who has had his health issues over the years, each had one assist.

"Matt is a big-game player," Blue said. "He brings a lot of energy. He has a great attitude and is a great leader."

Hudson also won 14 of 25 face-offs and got two saves apiece from goalies Stroud Corr and Matt Withem, respectively.

"Defensively, we've done a better job in terms of getting our slide packages in," Blue said. "We've done a better job of facing off.

"Offensively, we're spreading it out. A lot of kids are producing. We don't try to develop one or two players. We try to develop 10 to 12 players."

Wyatt Grant, Keali Kovach, Chad Harper, Will Morgan and Spencer Sears each scored one goal for the Bees.

Morgan also had two assists and Harper, Jacob Thompson and Jack Wurtz contributed one assist apiece for Brecksville.

Bees' goalie Avery Zarlinga managed to keep the match from being an even bigger blowout with a handful of saves from point-blank range. He finished with 14 saves.

Hudson earned a lopsided 25-0 victory over Painesville Riverside in the second round of the Region 2 tournament.

The contest took place May 18 at Hudson Memorial Stadium.

The Explorers scored eight goals in the first quarter and nine in the second to take a 17-0 halftime lead.

Jack Burdett had a season-high five goals and Graf had three goals and one assist.

Patrick Burdett and Dunne each had two goals and one assist and Alex Beegle and Mason Prisk each had two goals.

Also scoring one goal apiece for Hudson were Advent, Lori, Charlton, Charlie Murphy, Peyton Miller, Danny LaFontaine, Sean Weigel, Stephen Russell and Callahan.

Charlton had a season-high eight assists and Cole had three assists.

Rightnour, Callahan, Ludewig and Prisk each had an assist doe Hudson.

The Explorers outshot the Beavers (5-11) 52-6 and had a 56-16 edge in ground balls.

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