Challenging for a spot in the district title game is not uncommon for the Thomas Worthington High School field hockey team, and that's where the Cardinals found themselves last Tuesday.

Challenging for a spot in the district title game is not uncommon for the Thomas Worthington High School field hockey team, and that's where the Cardinals found themselves last Tuesday.

The Cardinals defeated Granville 6-0 on Oct. 19 in the first round of the tournament to advance to play Toledo Ottawa Hills in a district semifinal. The winner will play in a district title game Saturday with possible opponents being defending state champion Watterson or Dublin Jerome.

Appearances in the district title game are common for Thomas, as are district titles. Yet, last year the Cardinals found themselves sitting at home during the state tournament following a 2-1 loss to eventual state runner-up Columbus Academy. Finishing as a district finalist is not a disappointment for some teams, but it was for a Thomas team that reached state the previous two seasons.

The Cardinals took the necessary steps to ensure that disappointment wouldn't occur again this year if they got a chance to play in the district title game. Instead of relying on a few players, coach Terri Simonetti-Frost has made teamwork the top priority for the Cardinals. This decision, along with Simonetti-Frost's devotion to film study, propelled the Cardinals to more success.

Teamwork was on display in the victory over Granville, with five Cardinals scoring goals. Libby Lewis had two, and Nina Devine, Kristi Gegas, Lauren Geiser and Kieran Ford each had one. It was Gegas' first game since fracturing a finger in a 1-0 loss to Columbus Academy on Oct. 6.

"Without Kristi, the team had to make some adjustments but they did awesome," Simonetti-Frost said. "Against Academy, we didn't play as a unit and it showed. Since then I think the girls realized how to take a loss. We've done some great things and truly have played well together since then."

ĽKilbourne is taking more away from the season than its 0-16-1 record may indicate. The Wolves lost 12-0 to top-ranked Columbus Academy in the first round of the district tournament on Oct. 19 to end their season.

"We knew we couldn't match up with (Columbus Academy's) speed," coach Michele Hazzard said. "I thought the girls played hard, and they never gave up. We held our heads up the whole time."

One problem for Kilbourne this year was depth. Though there were six seniors in the starting lineup, a large portion of the team consisted of sophomores and freshmen who only had one or two years of experience in field hockey. That put the Wolves in trouble whenever a starter was out of the game for whatever reason, but it did give a lot of playing time to the younger players.

Kilbourne loses seniors Angel Burwell (defender), Laura Erlenbush (defender), Helena Flores (forward), Kelsey Furbee (forward), Anna Notestine (forward) and Katie Trombetti (defender).

Top players expected back are junior Rachel Witchey (midfielder), sophomores Emily Cantrell (midfielder), Valerie Erlenbusch (forward) and Shelby Taylor (forward), and freshman Lauren Hedges (midfielder).

"Those girls have only gotten better since they've been with the team, and I can only imagine how much more they're going to develop as players," Hazzard said. "I'm looking forward to seeing that growth."

One thing Hazzard wants to see the Wolves improve in the offseason is their dribbling. The ability to dribble well is what separates the good teams from the elite ones, a level Hazzard hopes Kilbourne can reach.

"We've got to improve our ball control," Hazzard said. "When you see the top teams and they dribble like there's no tomorrow, we need to develop that kind of ball control."

Kilbourne's Angel Burwell (front) and Columbus Academy's Clarissa Leickly battle for control of the ball Oct. 19. The Wolves lost the first-round district game 12-0.

At a glance

Below are the recent results and coming schedules for the Thomas Worthington and Worthington Kilbourne field hockey teams:

KILBOURNE

Oct. 19 - Lost to Columbus Academy 12-0 in first round of district tournament

Of note: The Wolves finished 0-16-1.

THOMAS

Oct. 19 - Defeated Granville 6-0 in first round of district tournament

Last Tuesday - Played Toledo Ottawa Hills in a district semifinal. The winner advanced to the district title game Saturday at Dublin Scioto against Dublin Jerome or Watterson.

Of note: The Cardinals were 13-1-2 before last Tuesday.