For much of the 21st century, the Hudson boys lacrosse team has put together a résumé unlike any other in Northeast Ohio.
The Explorers have made many final fours, including their only state championship in 2011, in their illustrious history.
Archbishop Hoban, on the other hand, hasn’t exactly had much of a legacy when it comes to the outdoor game played with sticks. The Knights have a long way to go before they can build an illustrious tradition that matches a juggernaut like Hudson.
But they sure took a crucial first step with a thrilling 13-12 victory over the Explorers on Friday at Dowed Field.
Division II Hoban (8-0) has defeated three formidable Division I squads this spring — Jackson and North Canton Hoover in addition to Hudson.
However, Friday’s win may be the sweetest one yet.
“That’s a good program,” coach Dave Clem, a 2005 Hoban graduate, said of Hudson. “DII team beating a DI school. We don’t have a feeder program. We got some kids from Hudson. They went to grade school with them, so it’s an exciting game.”
The game featured many 180-degree turns as neither team could pull away from the other. In the end, one of the Knights’ many seniors decided enough was enough.
Standout attackman Will Miller turned a one-goal deficit into a 13-11 lead in a span of less than five minutes. He scored the tying goal on a rebound and then the go-ahead goal on a low shot past Hudson junior goalie Ben Hackenberg a little more than four minutes later.
Miller added an insurance goal less than 40 seconds later on a shot from the left side. Senior midfielder Ryan Wiedt, who was a playmaker throughout the evening, assisted Miller’s last two goals.
“Will Miller is a great kid,” Clem said. “He has been getting better all four years. He hit the great shots when we needed great shots.”
Despite Miller’s clutch heroics, Hudson (3-2), which lost its second consecutive match, made a furious charge in the final 30-plus seconds.
The Explorers got a crucial turnover that led to a breakaway goal that cut their deficit to one with 33 ticks left. Hudson then got a rare faceoff win with approximately 20 seconds remaining. But an errant pass on the final play of the match doomed the Explorers.
“It was a team effort,” Clem said. “It was awesome. It was a fun Friday night under the lights.”
In the end, the Knights dominated the faceoff X and took advantage of the Explorers’ costly turnovers.
“Our faceoff continues to be a weak point,” first-year Hudson coach Brandon Schwind said. “It’s something we need to improve on. We’re trying different guys. I do think we found the answer. We did a good job tying them up at the X. Our wing play has got to improve.”
Miller finished with a match-high four goals. Senior attack Charlie Miller and senior midfielder Garrett Mellon each had three goals for Hoban.
Senior attack Mason Prisk led the Explorers with three goals and seniors Brady Ludewig (midfielder), Blake Lori (attack) and Merrick Widdoes (midfielder) each had two goals for Hudson, which had its offense neutralized after halftime.