Prior to the fall season, I boldly wrote a column regarding my thoughts on all of Hudson’s fall sports teams.
If you recall, I didn’t make the most flattering statement about the Hudson field hockey team.
My words were … the Hudson field hockey team "is the best team I’ve ever covered with - dare I say it - a somewhat underwhelming 21st-century history."
Pretty harsh, huh?
Let’s be real here. The Explorers have been excellent ever since I started working in Northeast Ohio more than 18-½ years ago.
What I meant, though, is despite its superior play during the last two decades, Hudson didn’t have much postseason success to celebrate.
Sure, the Explorers have been one of the best teams in the state since I started working here. But actually getting to the state tournament was another issue.
Hudson finally got to that elusive Final Four in 2015 after a 14-year hiatus. The Explorers proved they belonged among the elite by reaching the state-title match.
However, the trend continued for Hudson the following two years.
The Explorers put up glittering records and were juggernauts in the Northeast Ohio Field Hockey League.
But Hudson’s seasons came to premature ends with heartbreaking losses to Shaker Heights in the Gates Mills’ district title match.
If you’ve been around the block like I have, you probably remember that both Shaker and NEOFHL rival Hathaway Brown had a knack for sending the Explorers home with tears in their eyes prior to the 2015 run.
However, even though I pointed out Hudson’s, well, shortcomings in my infamous preseason column, I had a hunch the Explorers would do something special this fall.
In fact, I told a number of people Hudson would reach the Final Four.
It turns out I was wrong.
I short-changed the Explorers big time because they not only got to the state semifinals, they also upset Thomas Worthington 2-1 in a penalty-stroke shootout to reach the title match.
This was the same Cardinals’ team that defeated Hudson 3-1 at Scott Malson Field earlier in the season.
It was the same program that whipped the Explorers 3-0 in the 2015 state final - without its best player.
And to top it all off, this was the same Thomas Worthington squad that has six state championships on its résumé, including the previous three heading into 2018.
I’ll be completely honest. I didn’t think Hudson had a chance against the Cardinals.
They were considerably better when I saw them against the Explorers in September.
Heading into the state semifinals, Hudson’s record looked like this: 16-0 against teams in the northern part of the state and Cincinnati and 0-3 against squads that made their home in Columbus or near the state capital.
In the end, the Explorers’ drought without capturing the biggest prize has been extended another year.
Hudson lost to unbeaten Gahanna Columbus Academy 3-0 in the title match Saturday.
By the way, the Vikings, whose hearts were broken by the Explorers in a 2015 state semifinal contest, thanks to an overtime penalty stroke by Hannah Yard, have a state-best 11 state championships in their illustrious history.
Due to the rise of Columbus Academy, Thomas Worthington and Shaker Heights, which lost to Hudson twice during the season, the Explorers have not won a state title since they claimed their third championship prize in 1996.
My response to such a fact?
Congratulations to first-year head coach Louise Knox and her talented, determined and fearless squad.
You made your community proud with your spectacular play throughout the fall.
You took on all comers and conquered nearly all of them.
And contrary to what yours truly wrote or writes in the future, there is nothing "underwhelming" about your amazing season.
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, email@example.com or @FrankAceto_RPC.