After a one-year absence, the Columbus Academy field hockey team has earned a return trip to the state tournament at Upper Arlington.

After a one-year absence, the Columbus Academy field hockey team has earned a return trip to the state tournament at Upper Arlington.

Academy will play defending champion Thomas Worthington in a semifinal at noon Friday. In the other semifinal at 2:30 p.m., Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame, which is 12-4-3, will play Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown, which is 15-2-1.

"I'm excited to see (Thomas) again," coach Anne Horton said. "They play well as a unit, they have great players, they take great quick hits and they play a very solid team approach as well. We're just going to have to be ready to do that better."

Academy improved to 16-1-2 with a 4-0 win over Olentangy Liberty in a district final last Saturday. Liberty beat Academy 1-0 on Sept. 4.

Thomas beat Watterson 1-0 in triple overtime last Saturday. Last season, Thomas beat Watterson 3-0 for the program's second state title and first since 1988.

Academy was able to qualify for its seventh state tournament in the last nine seasons without its leading scorer, Layne Averill. In a 4-1 win over UA in the second round Oct. 21, Averill sprained her left ankle. She missed most of the game against UA and then entered district final. Averill, who leads the Vikings with 26 goals, will miss the remainder of the season, according to Horton.

"We changed the lineup and shifted girls around," Horton said. "We're a totally different lineup. We just had to adjust our system and our setup, and (against Liberty) I thought the kids responded well to what we were trying to get them to do."

Mia Wise and Rachel Terveer scored two goals against UA. Last Saturday, Natasha Leickly scored two goals in the first half.

"It's whoever steps up," Horton said. "Rachel Terveer has had two great games as a freshman, Ali Dillon put one in and Natasha scored two great goals off of a specific corner play.

"Natasha has been kind of a consistent scorer for us all season, anyway, but she did step up (against Liberty). But it's going to be a team effort, and that's what you want, anyway."

Academy's last appearance at the state tournament two years ago netted the Vikings their eight state championship and sixth since 2000 as they defeated Watterson 4-0 behind two goals from Averill.

At a glance

Below are recent results and coming schedules for the Academy football and boys and girls cross country teams:

FOOTBALL

*Last Friday -- Lost to Licking Valley 41-0. Storm Klein rushed for 122 yards on 15 carries for the Panthers.

Of note: The Vikings finished 4-6 overall and 2-5 in the MSL-Ohio.

*MSL-Ohio game

CROSS COUNTRY

Last Saturday -- Boys: Michael Berger finished 55th (18:07) in the Division III regional at Pickerington North. The top 16 individuals advanced to state Saturday at Scioto Downs; Girls: Nicole Humphrey was 46th (21:43.03) and Margaret Coons was 47th (21:43.2) in the Division III regional at Pickerington North.