If the Hudson boys lacrosse team is going to make a deep run into the postseason, a certain group of young men will have to carry the load on their broad shoulders.
"We’ll go as far as our senior leadership," first-year Explorers head coach Brandon Schwind said.
That certainly sounds rather delightful for Hudson fans.
Seven seniors lead the way for the Explorers, who finished 13-6 last spring after falling to eventual state runner-up Cleveland St. Ignatius 12-11 in the Division I, Region 2 title match.
Hudson also has five freshmen on the roster and plenty of other talented underclassmen.
"The group of freshmen are phenomenal," Schwind said. "They will get a lot of playing time for us. We’re very pleased with where we are at this point of the season."
The freshmen will need to be as good as Schwind says they are since the Explorers lost 12 seniors from the previous season.
They are Joe Graf (attackman), Matt Withem (goalie), Alex Nawn (backup goalie), Alex Beegle (midfielder), Matt Rudy (defenseman), Adam Dunne (midfielder), Angelo Donatelli (midfielder and faceoff specialist), Anthony Rightnour (attackman), Charlie Murphy (long-stick midfielder), Danny Saxon (defenseman), Colin Dickens (defenseman) and Patrick Burdett (attackman).
Hudson won’t be lacking midfielders this spring, though. Schwind said several midfielders could play big minutes throughout the season.
"That’s one of the bright spots in our program," he said. "We have nine midfielders who are very good."
The midfield is led by seniors Brady Ludewig, who plans to continue his academic and lacrosse careers at Robert Morris University in Moon Township, Pennsylvania, and Merrick Widdoes.
"Brady and Merrick are physical players," Schwind said. "Brady is a tremendous player and Merrick is a big-time player for us."
The rest of the midfielders comprise juniors Michael Chojnacki, who also will be the team’s faceoff specialist, and Dane DiGeronimo; sophomores Jacob Paltani, Chase Weber and Adam Oscarson; and freshmen Jordan Ito and Collin Peel.
"Jacob Paltani is a defensive middie with a great motor," Schwind said. "He brings an enthusiasm to the team."
Senior attackman Blake Lori, who also is planning to play at Robert Morris, leads the offense.
"Blake is a tremendous player," Schwind said. "He has good hands and good finishing ability. He can make people miss."
Schwind also expects to get plenty of goals from senior Mason Prisk and junior Jay Valko at the attack positions.
"Mason is a talented player," Schwind said. "He has a very quick release. We’re expecting a breakout year from Jay. He had a good preseason and he has a good, serious attitude. He’s a good leader."
Schwind prides himself on being a defense-first guy. Fortunately for the sixth-year head coach, the Explorers’ defense is right up his alley.
"Our defense is a very bright spot for the program," Schwind said.
The defenseman who will have the most responsibility could be freshman Griffin Liedel.
"Griffin is going to guard the top attackman," Schwind said.
Other defenders are seniors Stephen Russell, an All-Ohio choice last season, Matthew Wysmierski, sophomore Matthew Mehelic, who will see time at long-stick midfielder, and freshman Brennan Catania.
"Matthew Mehelic is a workhorse," Schwind siad. "He’s a ‘Yes sir,’ ‘No sir’ kid. He has a very positive impact on the program.
"Brennan will see significant minutes at close defense or long-stick middie."
Sophomore Alex Movshin is expected to get the nod as the starting goalie. His backup will be junior Ben Hackenberg.
"We have two good goalies," Schwind said.
Hudson is scheduled to make its 2019 debut against Kenston Friday in Bainbridge Township. Play is set to begin at 7 p.m.
The Explorers are scheduled to host backyard rival Western Reserve Academy Monday and Westlake Wednesday. Both contests are set to begin at 7:30 p.m.
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, firstname.lastname@example.org or @FrankAceto_RPC.