HUDSON — The last time Medina’s boys lacrosse team squared off with Hudson, it controlled every statistical category except one.
That one, however, was the final score.
The Bees squandered a fourth-quarter lead and dropped an 11-10 heartbreaker in triple overtime to the Explorers on a rainy night at Ken Dukes Stadium.
This time, the teams will meet tonight at 7 in Hudson with a trip to the Division I state championship in Westerville on the line.
“We’re not prepared to do that again,” Medina coach Pat O’Brien said of the letdown. “We played a tough game the last time, but had some real defensive breakdowns. We’re going to use that to our advantage.”
For the Bees, the appearance in the state semifinals will be their second in as many seasons since O’Brien returned to the sideline, while the Explorers will be making their sixth trip in seven years.
All that aside, Medina will have to slow down a midfield-oriented Hudson team to earn its first state final bid in nearly a decade.
Standing in the Bees’ way is 6-foot-4, 180-pound All-America midfielder Rob Lynott. The University of Massachusetts recruit has 52 goals this season, along with being among team leaders in assists (27), points (79) and groundballs (123).
With Lynott and attackers Andrew Circelli (51 goals) and Patrick O’Loughlin (team-best 33 assists), the Explorers can score in bunches.
“They’re a real strong midfield team,” O’Brien said. “Their attack isn’t their main thing, but they get the ball to the right guys. They’re predominantly a midfield-driven team and we struggle with that.”
Hudson is coming off a 14-8 regional final win over Solon, the lone team to beat the Explorers this season, and it was defense that sealed the deal.
Behind the play of 5-foot-9 goalie Tyler Zickel, who stopped a school-record 24 shots, the Explorers were able to avenge a 13-12 double-OT loss to the Comets in April.
Playing on a grass surface at Dante Lavelli Field, the Bees will need to be on their toes and make the most of their possessions to come away with a victory.
“What we have to do is control the groundballs,” O’Brien said. “Playing on grass like their field, it’s a big hump. Standing on one side of the field, it will make you look a foot shorter from the other side of the field.
“It’s always a different situation, but it is what it is.”
Medina is no stranger to difficult situations. It overcame a three-game losing skid midway through the season — the Bees fell to state-ranked Upper Arlington, Hudson and North Canton Hoover — to win five straight since.
But no matter what happened almost a month ago when these squads met, O’Brien feels if his team comes out and plays its game, it should be just fine.
“It’s going to boil down to who has the hot hand,” he said. “If we can make Lynott nervous and stay in his hip pocket and keep everyone else in check, we should be OK.”
Contact Dan Brown at email@example.com.
WHO: Medina Bees (13-4) at Hudson Explorers (19-1)
WHAT: Division I state semifinal
WHEN: 7 o’clock
WHERE: Dante Lavelli Field, Hudson
AT STAKE: Winner advances to state championship game against Cincinnati Moeller-Worthington Kilbourne winner Saturday night at Westerville Central.