It is a date that will "live in infamy" for Lily Morgan.

On Sept. 18, 2019, the Hudson senior goalkeeper saw her soccer career flash before her eyes.

Just three minutes into the Explorers’ eventual 3-1 loss to North Royalton, Morgan got her cleat stuck in Hudson’s Memorial Stadium’s turf as she dove for a loose ball.

"Since I heard so many pops, I immediately knew something was wrong when I couldn't feel or move my leg," Morgan said. "My season was over after that."

It sure was.

Morgan’s stellar high school career came to an abrupt end after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament and a torn meniscus.

What it made it more heartbreaking was, her devastating injury took place less than two months after her crowning achievement.

Morgan’s club team, the Cleveland Futbol Club, won a national championship in Overland Park, Kansas. Morgan, who was the starting goalie, led her team to a 5-0 record.

"Last season was a very difficult time in my life," Morgan said. "I came off an emotional high winning the national championship in July and having high expectations entering my senior year. I was really excited and looking forward to having a strong year and felt our team could go deep into the playoffs."

Fortunately, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who delivered his immortal words after Japanese planes attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, could be a source of inspiration for the snakebitten senior.

"Don’t allow our doubts of today limit our tomorrow," the 32nd president of the United States once said.

"I was very frustrated not being able to play my senior year, but I had amazing support from my teammates, coaches, trainer, friends and family to help me along the way," Morgan said.

The best part is this: The former standout Explorer plans to return to the pitch very soon.

Morgan recently signed a national letter of intent to continue her academic and soccer careers at Merrimack College, a private Augustinian college in North Andover, Massachusetts. The gifted teenager plans to major in exercise science/sports medicine.

"There are several reasons why I chose Merrimack College," Morgan said. "The class size, beautiful campus, it had my major and a great internship program, it’s located near Boston and most importantly, I have family in the area.

"I had the opportunity to meet the girls on the soccer team and they made a huge impact on my decision."

It’s a safe bet that Merrimack, which is led by head coach Gabe Mejail, is anxious to see its future goalie get healthy.

The sooner, the better.

The Warriors finished 3-14-1 overall in their first year as a Division I program last fall. Merrimack also finished 1-8-1 in the 11-team Northeast Conference.

"The coaching staff is amazing," Morgan said. "Coach Mejail was very open and honest and really wanted me to be a part of the team as they enter their second year of NCAA Division I play.

"I did have a lot of interest in other schools all over, but my focus was in the New England area. I made up my mind early in the process after I visited Merrimack for an academic session and tour."

Despite Morgan’s absence, the injury-riddled Explorers finished a respectable 8-8-2 and reached a Division I district semifinal game.

Prior to 2019, Morgan, a four-year starter, led Hudson to a district title game during her junior year. One of the Explorers’ victories was a thrilling 1-0 win over 10-time state champion Walsh Jesuit in a district semifinal contest.

"Playing for the Lady Explorers was a wonderful experience with great memories that I will never forget," Morgan said. "I started as a freshman and played every game until I got injured my senior year. I was very fortunate to play with a great group of girls over the years.

"My fondest memory was when we upset top state-ranked Walsh Jesuit in double overtime. I made 17 saves that helped contribute to the win."

Chris Gentille became the head coach of the Explorers in 2016. One of his first moves was inserting a petite freshman between the pipes.

The Hudson coach hasn’t looked back ever since.

"What can I say for the four years I have known Lily," Gentille said. "She came in as a tiny freshman goalkeeper. She obviously had her ups and downs that first season, but I saw that she had what it takes to be one of the great goalkeepers by the time she was done.

"I was right. Lily is, no question, the best goalkeeper I have coached in 20 years of coaching high school soccer."

So what made Morgan so legendary on Hudson Aurora Road?

Her massive array of talents certainly helped. There also was something about her that you just can’t teach, according to Gentille.

"Her quiet leadership on and off the field made her special," Gentille said. "She is a great girl to be around and her teammates loved her as well as us coaches. She worked extremely hard on what she did for four seasons with us.

"I feel like I was more heartbroken at times then she was about it. She always had a positive attitude about her situation. She will be greatly missed."

Gentille called Morgan’s 2018 performance against the Warriors "one of the best games in the history of the program."

"The saves that she made and the hits she took to come out of the game and then go back in will never be forgotten as well as all of those girls that night who were a part of it," Gentille said. "Lily is a player you don't ever replace."

Morgan, who first discovered soccer when she was 5 years old, also played softball and basketball and ran track as a youth. In the end, nothing could top the sport widely known as "The Beautiful Game."

"It didn’t take me too long to figure out that I wanted to concentrate solely on soccer," Morgan said. "I played mostly forward growing up, but then I played goalie when no one else wanted to play it.

"When I was playing for [Hudson-based] Pennine United, I played both forward and goalie. In my freshman year of high school, I had to make a decision between forward and goalie and I chose to go all in to be a goalkeeper."

Morgan, who played for head coach Dave Sidloski when she was a member of the Cleveland Futbol Club, has fine-tuned her skills at Ciornei Goalkeeping Academy in Hinckley for the last five years. Unfortunately, Morgan hasn’t been too active in recent months due to her injuries.

However, her days of inactivity will soon be coming to an end.

"I am in my second phase of rehab and hope to start my goalie training back up in the next couple of weeks," Morgan said. "Besides all of the bumps in the road that I have faced during this recovery, I am finally starting to feel better every day and getting stronger and stronger. I hope to be back in action by the end of June."

She hopes to remain active when she eventually makes her home in Massachusetts too. It has been a long, painful ride for the standout senior goalkeeper.

Fortunately, she will get a second chance in life to do something she loves more than anything. Perhaps a certain politician known for his famous New Deal describes Morgan’s career best.

"When you come to the end of the rope, tie a knot and hang on."

"I’m so excited for the next phase of my journey," Morgan said. "I look forward to being a part of the Merrimack Warriors and hope that I can contribute and support the team during my freshman year.

"Merrimack College has transitioned to the NCAA Division I level and having the opportunity of playing at this level is a dream come true. My goal is to enjoy the next several years of competitive soccer while getting a good education and preparing myself for the future."

Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, faceto@recordpub.com or @FrankAceto_Gannett.