HUDSON -- It was the first game of the season for both teams.

However, in some ways, it had sort of a playoff feel.

For starters, both squads were among the best teams in the state in their respective divisions last year.

And both teams had explosive offenses that could light up the cage on a regular basis.

While both squads provided plenty of theatrics, the Division I state powerhouse had just a few more weapons than the Division II state power.

The host Hudson boys lacrosse team made a stellar debut by posting a 15-12 victory over Toledo St. Francis De Sales March 18 at Hudson Memorial Stadium.

At times, the Explorers were in complete control. And there were other times when Hudson had a few lapses.

Nonetheless, the Explorers always had an answer if the Knights got close.

"I thought we controlled the game," Hudson head coach David Blue said. "We played 10 midfielders to their five. We feel we have 10 kids that can really go hard. That's a huge advantage."

The Explorers reached the Division I state semifinals last year. It was their 10th appearance in the Final Four in the 21st century. The Knights reached the 2016 Division II state championship game.

The teams traded early blows until Hudson (1-0) scored six unanswered goals to take a 10-4 lead midway through the third quarter.

The Explorers led 14-7 at one point, but St. Francis De Sales made things a bit interesting with three unanswered goals in a span of 70 seconds.

The Knights nearly got another one some 30 seconds after their three-goal spurt.

St. Francis De Sales had a shot from point-blank range saved by Hudson backup goalie Stroud Corr with less than three minutes left.

But Patrick Burdett ended the Knights' mini run with his third goal of the game to make it 15-11 with 1:54 remaining.

"We subbed some guys," Blue said. "We wanted to make sure everyone got in."

The Explorers' offense was a well-oiled machine thanks to the playmaking abilities of Max Cole. The standout attackman finished with a goal, a game-high 8 assists and 6 ground balls.

"Max had a great game," Blue said. "He really controlled the offense. He was amazing with his field vision and feeding abilities."

Cole Miller scored four times and Blake Lori and Anthony Rightnour each scored twice for Hudson.

"Cole had a great day shooting," Blue said.

Alex Beegle added a goal and an assist and Merrick Widdoes and Kevin Callahan each scored once for the Explorers.

Angelo Donatelli also had an assist and a team-high 8 ground balls for Hudson, which outshot the Knights 40-36 and had a 42-40 advantage in ground balls.

Matt Withem, the Explorers' starting goalie, and Stroud Corr made 10 and 3 saves, respectively, in the cage.

Cole, Miller and Withem earned game balls for their performances.

"Matt played great in the nets," Blue said. "Enrique Rodriguez and Danny Saxon played tough defense and started the clearing game with two takeaways each."

Nick Provenza, Trevor Doren and Carter Pavain each led St. Francis De Sales with 3 goals and an assist and Max Johnston, Dylan Chagin and Evan Amstad each scored once for the Knights (0-1). Jack Carroll also had an assist for St. Francis De Sales.

The Explorers, who used a plethora of players, lost 12-of-30 face-off opportunities.

But such a fact didn't bother Blue the least bit.

"We've run this system for years and years," Blue said. "Last year, [2016 Hudson graduate] Chris [Motter] was so good at it, so we used him most of the time. This year, we have guys who can win face-offs and stay on the field."

Hudson, which rallied from a 3-0 deficit to earn an 8-3 win in the junior varsity contest, was scheduled to visit Medina March 22 and Ken Dukes Stadium. Results were not available at press time.

The Explorers are set to entertain Mason March 25 at 1 p.m.


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