Offense shines for Kilbourne girls
Hannah Vincent of Kilbourne tries to get the ball through the legs of Upper Arlington's Jessie Greve on Sept. 1. Buy This Photo
Worthington Kilbourne High School girls soccer coach Courtney Irwin had high expectations for her team at the start of the season, but in certain aspects the Wolves have been playing even better than she had hoped.
Kilbourne was 4-0 overall and 1-0 in the OCC-Cardinal Division before playing Westerville Central on Sept. 4.
"I think the most pleasant surprise has been the amount of offense we've been able to generate," Irwin said. "We've scored 15 goals in four games, and it's not been just one person scoring all the goals. I've had seven different players put a ball in the back of the net so far. It truly has been a team effort."
The Wolves appeared to be on their way to a fifth victory Sept. 1, as they led Upper Arlington 2-0 with 28 minutes, 56 seconds left in the first half when the game was suspended because of bad weather. The contest is expected to be completed, Irwin said.
"We are young and we are 4-0 (before Sept. 4), so at this point I am very excited to be where we are now," Irwin said. "I anticipated a solid start. My girls are living up to the standards I set before them."
Irwin expected the defense to be strong, as seniors Hanna Vincent and Paige Martinski and junior Celeste Fushimi-Karns are returning starters. Combined with three other returning starters in senior midfielder Naomi Barker, senior forward Selena Fushimi-Karns and junior midfielder Kelly Zebrowski, the Wolves aren't short on experience.
However, Irwin noted that younger players are contributing to the team's success.
"I am very impressed with the two freshmen on varsity," she said. "Carli Taute (forward) and Julia Tout (outside back) are both starting for us. They are very quick as well as composed with the ball at their feet. I also think (sophomore goalkeeper) Alex Lawrence is doing a tremendous job in front of the net."
Kilbourne defeated Westerville South 4-0 in its league opener Aug. 28, as Selena Fushimi-Karns, Taute, sophomore forward Miriam Bassani and junior midfielder Erin Mahaffey scored and Lawrence had two saves.
The Wolves edged Olentangy Orange 2-1 on Aug. 30 behind goals by Mahaffey and Zebrowski and two saves by Lawrence.
Against UA, Taute and Mahaffey scored.
Despite the start, Irwin said the Wolves need to keep improving and make adjustments.
"I think our defensive-to-offensive transition is an aspect of our game that we are looking to improve," she said. "I'd like to see quicker, cleaner movement of the ball out of the back field from our defenders and midfielders to our forwards.
"In turn, I would also like to see our forwards making effective and creative runs that are timed to use the support of our midfield."
Kilbourne, Thomas boys settle for draw
The Kilbourne and Thomas boys teams met in a non-league game Aug. 30 in the battle for the Thom-Kil trophy, with teams playing to a 1-all tie.
Junior forward Ben Frazier scored for the host Cardinals with eight minutes remaining to forge the tie. Wolves senior Robbie Morris scored seven minutes into the second half. Senior goalie Jesse Greene had eight saves for Thomas and junior goalie Joey Cipicchio had 16 saves for Kilbourne.
Both teams have struggled thus far, as Kilbourne was 1-2-1 before playing Westerville Central on Sept. 4 and Thomas was 1-1-2 before playing Westland on Sept. 4.
"We have a lot to work on over the course of the year," Kilbourne coach Jon Sprunger said. "Between graduation and the (Crew) Academy program, we lost most of our team last year. We have only five players currently on varsity that were on the varsity team last year in the first week of September."
Kilbourne lost 10 players from a year ago to graduation and two others -- senior forward Charlie Reymann and junior defender Carter Grimm -- to the Crew Academy.
"We have some talented players, but it is their first experience at the varsity level," Sprunger said. "The speed and strength of play is quite a step up from the j.v. levels. We will continue to nurture these players and help them reach their full potential."
The Wolves lost to Westerville South 4-1 in their OCC-Cardinal opener Aug. 28. Senior forward Kyle Wahl scored on a header off an assist from junior midfielder Grant Nash. Nash also assisted Morris' goal against Thomas.
"(We) played much better against Thomas than we did against South," Sprunger said. "The game against Westerville South showed a lot of fixable errors -- communication errors, defensive marking errors, offensive mistakes. ... We spent the entire practice (Aug. 29) studying film. I believe that it is very important for developing players."
Among the standouts for Kilbourne so far have been junior midfielder Jake Kovacs and senior defender Cameron Gall.
"One of our strongest working players right now is Jake Kovacs," Sprunger said. "He has been anchoring our midfield. He is always around the ball.
"Cameron Gall has also stepped up as the central defender and has been very good at plugging up the area just in front of Joey Cipicchio."