Thomas set for another state title run
Thomas Worthington High School field hockey coach Terri Simonetti Frost knew her team was ready to work toward defending its state title when offseason conditioning got into full swing three months ago.
Having defeated Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown 1-0 in the state final last season to capture their third state championship, the Cardinals return all but four key players from last fall.
Still, according to Simonetti Frost, there's a sense of newness as Thomas eyes another strong finish.
The Cardinals, who also won state titles in 1988 and 2007, opened with a 2-1 win over Upper Arlington in a Central Ohio Field Hockey League game Aug. 29 and played Worthington Kilbourne in a league contest Sept. 5.
"We got to meet the mayor of Worthington and they did a nice ceremony (after winning the state title), and we went to the senate (at the Ohio Statehouse) and that was really nice," said Simonetti Frost, who is in her 14th season leading the program. "It's forever a long celebration, but when the summer comes, it's back to work. To me, it's a completely new team and the dynamics have changed. Once June hits, you just move on so that you can try to get back to the championship."
The top returnees are seniors Katie Holman (attacker), Anna Schomaker (defender) and Sophie Tikson (midfielder) and juniors Devan Chakroff (attacker) and Nina Devine (midfielder) and Ellen Westfall (goalkeeper).
Tikson has verbally committed to Appalachian State and Devine scored the only goal against Hathaway Brown.
Junior Olivia Smith (midfielder/defender) was a key backup last year.
Also on the team are seniors Tonycia Melfe (attacker) and Veronica Nunez (midfielder), junior Maddie Goelz (attacker), sophomore Christina Mertz (attacker) and freshmen Taylor Insley (defender/midfielder), Hailey Perese (defender/midfielder), Ellie Potts (attacker) and Mallory Weinsz (defender).
The Cardinals went 20-0-1 overall last season. Their only blemish was a 2-all tie against Columbus Academy at 2 in a COFHL game.
Thomas and Academy tied for first in the COFHL at 10-0-1, followed by Bexley (7-4), Dublin Jerome (7-4), Granville (7-4), Upper Arlington (7-4), Watterson (6-4-1), Hartley (6-5), Olentangy (6-5), Olentangy Liberty (6-5), Dublin Coffman (5-6), Columbus School for Girls (4-6-1), Kilbourne (2-9), Olentangy Orange (2-9), Dublin Scioto (1-10) and Lancaster (0-11).
In the postseason last year, the Cardinals beat Lancaster (11-0), Upper Arlington (4-1) and third-seeded Watterson (2-1 in overtime) to advance to the state tournament for the ninth time.
Cami Mullins, who was part of a five-member senior class last season that also included Sam Kuehnl, Kieran Ford and Lauren Geiser, scored the only goal in a 1-0 win over Cincinnati St. Ursula in a state semifinal.
Kuehnl (Central Michigan), Mullins (Robert Morris in Moon Township, Pa.) and Geiser (Slippery Rock) are playing in college.
The Cardinals play Sept. 15 at St. Ursula and Sept. 22 at home against Hathaway Brown.
"Our stick skills are good, but our defense is our weak point right now and that's usually our strong suit," Simonetti Frost said. "That's where we need to improve, along with just reading the plays better. Offensively, (we) look good, although we need to be better at finding the cage."
Kilbourne looking to take step forward
Kilbourne followed an 0-16-1 season in 2010 by improving to 3-14 last season, including 2-9 in the COFHL.
With all but one player back from a year ago, the Wolves are looking to take a big step forward.
Kilbourne opened Aug. 28 by beating Orange 6-2 and played Thomas on Sept. 5.
"We have 15 returnees among the 19 girls on the team," fourth-year coach Michele Hazzard said. "We only had one senior last year, with six juniors, seven sophomores and two freshmen, and now everyone is a year older. I kept telling the girls last year that everyone was a little older than we were and I just told them to work in the offseason. They all were dedicated to their stick work and conditioning."
Among a nine-member senior class are six who have been key players since they were freshmen in Emily Cantrell (midfielder), Valerie Erlenbusch (forward/midfielder), Molly Fish (midfielder/defender), Abi Hubacher (defender), Allie Riebel (defender) and Shelby Taylor (forward).
The other seniors are Lauren Barnhart (defender/midfielder), Lydia Frechette (defender) and Parker Smith (midfielder).
Also on the team are juniors Addy Boyles (defender), Gabrielle Dendinger (midfielder), Cassie Frontz (midfielder/forward), Lauren Hedges (midfielder), Katie McAllister (midfielder/defender), Kate Thompson (goalie) and Lindsey Whittemore (forward), sophomore Amy Kruzan (forward) and freshmen Leah Wesner (forward) and Abby Piecenski (midfielder).
Kruzan scored three goals against Orange.
Last season, Kilbourne earned victories against the New Albany club team (4-2), Scioto (1-0) and Lancaster (2-0). The Wolves lost to Watterson 2-0 in its district tournament opener.
The only player lost to graduation was Rachel Witchey.
"I have a new workout program and they worked a lot this summer," Hazzard said. "We have 15 returning players and all of those people coming back are going to mesh. We're going to click sooner because we're all playing together."