HUDSON — As she witnessed her teammate fall to the turf, Abby Kern couldn’t stop the puddles from overflowing.
“I started crying on the bench,” the senior defender said.
Kern couldn’t keep her emotions in check when her classmate, Kierstin Havens, collided with an opposing player while going for a 50-50 ball with a little more than 10 minutes left in the match.
Havens let out a disturbing scream after collapsing rather awkwardly. The standout center midfielder suffered a painful knee injury and did not return to the field.
Havens’ unfortunate incident was a lousy ending to an otherwise flawless 2019 debut for the Hudson girls soccer team, which earned a 3-0 victory over North Olmsted. The contest took place Friday at Hudson Memorial Stadium.
It was especially lousy for Havens’ longtime confidant.
“I’ve played soccer with her for the past 10 years,” Kern said. “It’s sad seeing her get hurt. Hopefully, it’s not anything serious.”
Havens’ return is unknown at this point. Nonetheless, the Explorers should still be in good hands with Kern, who, along with Havens and senior goalkeeper Lily Morgan, are guiding a green but extremely skillful group of youngsters.
The senior trio’s leadership program began more than two months ago when Kern, Havens and Morgan got the troops together to prepare for the upcoming season.
They’ve hit the ground running ever since.
“The seniors did a great job for us this summer,” Hudson head coach Chris Gentille said. “They’ve taken it upon themselves to really take leadership of the team and integrate the freshmen since we have so many.”
Kern and her senior comrades enjoy playing with those six freshmen, who have been making a significant impact before they even took the field for Friday’s season opener.
Due to their immense talents, it’s a good bet this once-in-a-generation freshman bunch is forcing at least some of its older teammates to look over their shoulders.
That’s just fine with Kern.
“Ever since the summer, we’ve been leading,” Kern said. “[We’ve been] getting everybody out to do team bonding. It has been a lot of fun getting to meet all the freshmen. We had, like, 24 try out.”
Kern’s starting spot appears to be safe for now. If she happens to be replaced in the lineup, though, there won’t be any blowups on the sideline.
When she is on the field, though, the phrase, “quiet as mouse” will not apply to the born-to-lead Kern.
“She’s vocal when she needs to be when she’s on the field,” Gentille said. “She leads by how she plays. When she subs off, she’s helping players. When she’s on the field, she’s talking. She’s a good anchor in the back with Lily.”
Kern liked what she saw in the first five-plus minutes of the game. Thanks to goals by Havens and junior forward Ally Campanella, Hudson had a 2-0 lead before the Eagles could catch their breath.
However, other than a second-half penalty-kick conversion by Explorers’ sophomore forward Lauren Pacsi, North Olmsted’s defense stiffened the rest of the way.
The Eagles, who had trouble keeping the ball near their feet due to Hudson’s total dominance in possession, had a shot from close range go over the goal late in the match. They also got dangerously close a few other times when the Explorers’ defense had briefs lapses in concentration.
“The first six minutes, we had the first two goals,” Kern said. “That set a nice pace for the game. After that, we sort of broke down a little bit.
“We needed more composure. We had a few moments in the back when it was kind of scary.
“Something could have happened with the other team scoring. We just couldn’t clear it sometimes.”
Not even the nearly invincible members of the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team have played flawlessly every single time they took the field. Kern knows her squad won’t either.
The senior perfectionist also knows this powerful fact: She wouldn’t trade her shin-guard wearing mates for anyone else.
“All in all, we have pretty good team chemistry this year,” Kern said. “I think that will only get better from here on out.”
These chemistry lessons don’t apply to just the varsity members. Kern and her teammates are making sure they’re getting digits and email addresses from their junior varsity friends, as well.
The JV players may get something else from their more accomplished varsity boon companions, as well. That something else might include a bow or two.
“We’re going to assign games where we’re going to give each other gifts,” Kern said. “We write notes to each other. It’s just a good way to bond with varsity and JV. In the past, there hasn’t been much friendship or bonding. We want to get more into that.”
It’s looking good so far. Every member of the varsity and JV teams recently enjoyed a pasta dinner together.
Kern, on the other hand, has an appetite for some other tasty delicacies.
Those treats are a bit more expensive, though. That’s because they’re rather extravagant portions. Those mouthwatering nourishments also feature a yellowish color that looks especially attractive on jewelry.
That would be pure gold.
“We definitely want to win the conference and get out of districts, for sure,” Kern said. “We want to go far. We have to beat Twinsburg; we have to beat Walsh [Jesuit], Medina, Strongsville. I think we have the potential to do so.”
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, firstname.lastname@example.org or @FrankAceto_RPC.