What do Walsh Jesuit, Solon and Twinsburg have in common?
Here’s a clue: Those schools have put together some pretty decent girls soccer teams over the years.
Need another hint?
They’ve earned a few trophies at a certain district tournament located in northeast Ohio.
A certain school that features blue and white colors has been harshly bullied by each member of this menacing triumvirate.
OK, here’s the answer …
The Warriors, Comets and Tigers have sent Hudson packing in sectional-district play every year since 2012.
The Explorers lost to 10-time state champion Walsh three times (all in the district final), Solon twice (once in the district final) and Twinsburg twice.
And yes, one of those heartbreaking defeats against the Tigers took place in — you guessed it — a district title game.
That setback took place last year when Twinsburg scored a 2-0 win in the Solon Division I final. The Tigers, who also won the Suburban League National conference championship, reached the state semifinals.
So what does fourth-year Hudson head coach Chris Gentille expect to see when his team prepares for battle in the postseason?
More of the same.
"Twinsburg is the team to beat," Gentille said. "I’m sure they have a bullseye on their backs. Us, Wadsworth and North Royalton are all trying to catch up."
Like they have been in the past, the Explorers are extremely close to matching their nemeses. Hudson finished 12-5-2 overall and 5-1-1 in the highly competitive National Conference.
The Explorers won’t be the only ones threatening to overthrow the Tigers’ throne. The conference is expected to be as strong as ever.
Of course, isn’t that the case every year?
"There are a lot of good teams in the conference," Gentille said. "Wadsworth is tough and physical. Nordonia had a good year last year. North Royalton is always a tough school to play. It’s a tough conference."
If Hudson wants to answer this formidable challenge, it will have to do so with new members in its inexperienced but promising squadron.
Gentille said goodbye to nine graduating players last fall. They are midfielders Anna Campanella, who is now playing at Kent State University, and Lauren Heidler; forwards Jordan Manley, Lexi Muccino and Sarah Jadallah; and defenders Kate Saxer, Meredith Liechty, Hady Truesdail and Katie Newberry.
Due to these major losses, the Explorers will need to learn the nuances of varsity soccer on the fly. Thus far, the defense appears to be ahead of the offense.
"We’ve been OK," Gentille said. "The offense will take a little longer to jell. There’s a lot of new players in the mix. It will take some time."
Being patient will be vital since Gentille has four freshmen on the varsity roster. There could be more on the way too.
"We have a good group of girls," Gentille said. "Besides the four freshmen on varsity, we could dress two more. That will be a learning curve in itself."
This youth movement is critical if Hudson wants to slay its past dragons and reach the regional competition for the first time since 2010. Just three seniors will take their spots for the Explorers on the pitch this fall.
"They’re excited to be with each other," Gentille said. "The girls are there for each other and they support each other really well."
This type of team unity can go a long way in terms of success. It will need to continue, though. Especially since a certain trio of Hudson heartbreakers aren’t going to fade into the shadows any time soon.
"For us, winning the conference is important," Gentille said. "We have the capabilities to be that good.
"Twinsburg is going to be tough. We have to play well against them in the regular season. Our goal is to knock them off."
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, email@example.com or @FrankAceto_RPC.