Coach sees positives in Hudson's girls soccer's draw with Mentor

Michael Leonard
Kent Weeklies
Hudson forward Reagan Miele pushed the ball ahead of a Mentor defender during the Explorers' 1-1 home draw with Mentor Oct. 14.

HUDSON — On the surface, Hudson's final regular season home game with Mentor Oct. 14 might seem emblematic of the Explorers' 2020 season.

Year one of the Caleb Fortune era has often been a case of one step forward, one step back for Hudson.

Coming off a 6-1 loss Oct. 10 at the hands of state power Medina, Fortune saw positives in his team's play over the last week.

"I think you could tell the fatigue from the Medina game was still there," Fortune said. "There are some tired legs. I think we created more in the last week than we have in the games before. We're passing the ball well."

Indeed, the Explorers had the bulk of possession and created far more scoring opportunities than the Cardinals.

However, all that added up to was a 1-1 draw with Mentor at Hudson Memorial Stadium. Hudson moved to 5-5-3 on the season.

Fortune said he's happy to see the style of play the Explorers are showing with the playoffs just around the corner.

"Our fate is in our hands now," Fortune said. "Tonight, we did a good job of being able to more the ball around. We're finding out what we need to improve for the playoffs."

Mentor coach Ken Skilton praised Hudson's effort, as the Explorers finished with a 9-2 edge in shots on goal.

"We lost one of our players who will help us in offense, but we've got to make the adjustments we need to heading into the playoffs," Skillton said. "It was a good battle between two good team. Both teams played hard. I think they are going to go far in the postseason."

The Explorers were able to press up the field a create a couple of early chances, but the Hudson often found their efforts thwarted in the offensive third of the field.

Although his strikers came up empty in terms of goals vs. Mentor, Fortune said his wasn't discouraged.

"I feel like we ask a lot of our forwards because we play a 4-4-2," Fortune said. "That have to track back a lot to help clear the middle. There's a lot of hard work, so I'm not going to get on them for not scoring goals."

Against the run of play in the 17th minute, Mentor took the lead.

Cardinal senior Emma Potter was able to get to a loose ball in the Explorers' end and find junior Alyssa Blackburn in the the box. Blackburn slide a low shot inside the right post to make it 1-0.

Fortune had to laugh at the goal, as it was the only real scoring chance Mentor against a solid Hudson defense all night.

"It seems if we make half a mistake, a goal goes in against us," Fortune said. "That was an excellent shot though."

Mentor would see few chances at Hudson's net the rest of the way, as Explorer goaltender Emma Liesen had only one save on the night.

By contrast, Mentor goaltender Jill Medvecky had to be on her toes the entire evening, as she had to break up numerous chances by the Explorers. Medvecky finished with eight saves on the night.

After their efforts were frustrated in offense for most of the first half, Hudson found the equalizer on a free kick in the 33rd minute.

A foul was called about 45 yards out from goal and senior Maddie Coats took the kick.

Coats sent an high arcing ball towards the net, which dipped just below the crossbar and just over Medvecky to make it 1-1.

"Maddie did something special there," Fortune said.

With the match tied 1-1 at the half, Hudson's attack came in waves in the second half.

The Explorers produced 12 shots (seven of which were on goal) and three corner kicks in the second half alone, peppering the Cardinals goal with numerous chances.

However, Medvecky was up to the task, as she robbed Tori Liesen of a goal on several occasions.

Hudson will start its Division I playoff run with a bye, as it was given the No. 8 overall seed in the Northeast Ohio (East) superdistrict draw.

The Explorers will open the postseason by hosting the winner of the Warren Howland-Warren G. Harding Oct. 22 at 6 p.m. at Hudson Memorial Stadium.