Hudson girls lacrosse shows improvement despite loss in measuring-stick game to Upper Arlington
Hudson girls lacrosse coach Kyra Maludy knew what she was doing in adding Upper Arlington to the Explorers' 2021 schedule.
The Golden Bears have become a formidable dynasty in Ohio high school girls lacrosse, having won 10 overall state titles (all coming since 2002) and the last five in a row.
But the goal in playing Upper Arlington, Maludy said, is to force her squad to "level up" in advance of the postseason when the stakes become winner-take-all.
"I've really tried to stack our schedule with some really strong opponents," Maludy said. "And sometimes it's these great, really feel-good wins. Other times we have some losses, and at the end of the day, we're learning something from them. I always think it's better to play a tougher schedule in season and then be ready for kind of anything that gets thrown at us in postseason than to schedule a season that just gives us an undefeated season."
Against Upper Arlington on Saturday, Hudson lost its fourth game of the year, falling 17-9. The Explorers are now 8-4 while the Golden Bears remain undefeated at 14-0.
Hudson got two goals apiece from Emma Palmer and Peyton Farley. Jamison Cart, Maggie Murray, Ryan St. Pierre, Emily Ritenour and Kaci Ramlow also each added goals for the Explorers.
But despite the final score, it was Hudson that got off to a fast start, building a quick 3-1 lead thanks to goals from St. Pierre, Ritenour and Cart in the opening nine minutes.
After that spurt, however, the Golden Bears scored six unanswered goals, including three straight from Camryn Callaghan (six goals) to build a 7-3 lead by the 8:19 mark in the first half.
Hudson responded with another miniature run to close the half thanks to two goals from Palmer and one from Farley, and went into halftime down just one goal, 7-6.
Total, Upper Arlington outscored Hudson 10-3 in the second half. While the Golden Bears maintained a narrow 12-8 lead with 17:38 to play, they scored four unanswered goals in a spurt led by Callaghan and Kampbell Stone (six goals) to give themselves a 16-8 advantage with just under eight minutes remaining in the contest.
While Upper Arlington controlled most of the second half, it was a much more balanced game than the final score suggests.
"We worked really hard," Maludy said. "We told them just to ignore the score because the score doesn't reflect how they played. My coaching staff, we all agreed that the girls played a full 50 minutes. They were working hard, we added some new things to their game this week, and I think they rose to the challenge and didn't let it fluster them.
"They just stayed and played composed, and that was great. We kind of talked to them about there were a few things in the second half that were just out of our control. There's a funky ball bounce, or we missed a ground ball, or we missed a couple draws, and that affected the play of the game. But overall, I think our girls played with really great intensity for the full game and that made a big difference."
Despite the loss on Saturday, it's also evident how far Hudson has come since another measuring stick game earlier this season.
The Explorers fell 16-8 on April 8 against Jackson, in a regular-season matchup that has become a regional final preview in recent years.
"A month is a long time in lacrosse to change our play," Maludy said. "So now being a month since that game, and being able to play with more composure, have those connections, hitting those connections, made a really big difference for us for a majority of the game."
Hudson has five games remaining in its regular-season schedule.
And while they've shown marked improvement over the last month, the key takeaways Maludy said she wants her team to pull from this game concern the intangibles of their intensity and support for one another.
"The intensity that we had all day today was really great from sideline to field," Maludy said. "Everyone was intense and had the energy going for them, and I think that would be a big game changer for us, not just kind of letting ourselves get down."
"Our girls are so supportive of each other. And that is when it comes to end of season and postseason, that's kind of where teams with internal issues will start to crumble, and our team is doing a really great job of playing together. Our team word this year is 'sisterhood,' and so that sisterhood is really apparent for us right now."