Columbus School for Girls soccer coach Mindy Hammond never lost faith in her players or her team's style of play, even after the Unicorns finished 4-12-2 last year and 3-13 in 2011.
Her patience appears to be paying dividends. Despite a 5-0 loss to Grandview on Sept. 7, the Unicorns were 3-2-1 overall before playing Worthington Christian on Sept. 9.
"The last few years were a bit of a struggle as we rebuilt our program, but we always knew things were going to get better as our players gained more experience and learned to buy into our system," said Hammond, who is in her third season.
The Unicorns opened Aug. 22 with a 4-0 victory over Groveport. CSG also beat West Jefferson 5-1 on Aug. 27 and Caledonia River Valley 8-0 on Aug. 29.
But Hammond was more impressed with how the Unicorns played when they tied Columbus Academy at 1 on Aug. 24 and lost to DeSales 1-0 in their CCL opener Sept. 3.
Last year, CSG lost to Academy 2-0 and to DeSales 4-1.
"Columbus Academy and DeSales are teams that have beaten us pretty badly in the past, so it was nice to turn the tables on Columbus Academy and push DeSales to their limit," Hammond said. "DeSales was the Division II state runner-up last year and the state champion two years ago, so playing them close gives us a lot of confidence."
Two forwards have returned in senior Lindsey Hester and sophomore Alyssa Sugar, while junior Sabrina Ebner, sophomores CeCe D'Arms, Annie Parkhill and Adelaide Standley and freshman Sadiyah Babatunde also play the position.
Sugar scored two goals against West Jefferson and one against Academy, Groveport and River Valley.
Senior Olivia Beeson and sophomore Maddie Ostrowski have returned to start in the midfield along with sophomores Sarah Knott and Eleanor Smith.
Sophomore Olivia Feldman again is starting at goalkeeper, while seniors Leah Glimcher and Mo Ruff and sophomore Maria Presper have returned to start on defense.
Rounding out the defensive unit are senior Kelsey Warren, junior Kameron Millner and sophomore Andrea Presper.
"We're scoring a lot more goals than we did last year and Alyssa Sugar has had a great start to her season," Hammond said. "Our midfielders are playing a lot better and that's allowed us to pass the ball and attack a lot more effectively."
Last year, the Unicorns finished 0-4 in the CCL and lost at Ready 5-0 in the second round of the Division III district tournament.
"We want to beat some CCL teams and we want to be up there competing with the top teams in the Division III district tournament this year," Hammond said.
Field hockey team losing close games
The field hockey team beat Olentangy Orange 2-0 on Sept. 3 to improve to 1-4 overall, but it was 0-2 in the Central Ohio Field Hockey League-East Division before playing Bexley on Sept. 9.
First-year coach Jessica Schirner was disappointed with her team's start, but pointed out three of those losses were by one goal.
The Unicorns opened Aug. 22 with a 1-0 loss to Upper Arlington. They lost to Granville 2-1 in overtime in a league game Aug. 26, fell to Olentangy 2-1 in overtime Aug. 27 and lost to defending state champion Columbus Academy 2-0 in a league game Aug. 29.
CSG finished 4-11-1 overall last year.
"We have only 14 girls on varsity and 10 on j.v., and I think we just ran out of steam in those games that went into overtime or we may have been able to have more wins," Schirner said.
"But our players have better attitudes and are more focused this year, so I'm hoping our win against Orange will get us going in the right direction."
Sophomore Gennie Faber has returned to start in goal, while seniors Meredith Meyer and Ciru Waiania, junior Annie Purdum and sophomores Katie Henderson and Charlotte Lennox anchor the defense.
Faber had 17 saves against Academy.
"Our sophomore goalie has stepped up and done an awesome job of keeping us in games," Schirner said.
Seniors Paige Perlstein, Molly Thomas and Blaine Yaffe start at forward, while junior Bess Greenberg and sophomore Maria Sugar also play up top.
Back to start in the midfield are juniors Myrial Holbrook and Rebecca O'Donovan and sophomore Isabella Pesavento.
Lennox and Pesavento scored against Orange, Perlstein scored against Granville and Sugar scored against Olentangy.
"We have a great midfield line with all three players having a lot of stamina," Schirner said.
"Our sophomore class is amazing. I can't wait to see what they will do when they get older and more experienced."
Tennis squad starts strong
The tennis team improved to 5-0 overall by beating Wellington 4-1 on Sept. 5.
In CCL matches, the Unicorns were 2-0 after defeating Ready 5-0 on Aug. 28 and DeSales 5-0 on Sept. 3.
"We've been changing our lineup from match to match, and the best thing about this season is everyone is contributing to our success," senior captain Claire Weiler said.
"Beating DeSales was our best win so far because they always put up a good fight against us, and two of the matches went to three sets."
In CSG's first five dual matches, Weiler, Val Du, Paige Quinton and Linda Yang all were 5-0 and Mary Anne Click and Ally Kennedy were 4-1, with each player rotating between different courts.