The Thomas Worthington High School girls soccer team is hoping the return of senior midfielder Leighann Holcomb will provide an offensive boost.
Through 10 games, the Cardinals scored more than one goal only once, in a 10-0 win over Westland on Sept. 4. They totaled just four goals in the other nine games and were shut out five times.
Holcomb, one of the team's three captains, was out of the lineup for three weeks with an injury.
"We've missed Leighann and it will be nice to get her back and hopefully she'll be ready to go after that strained quad," said coach Tim Barton, whose team was 3-5-2 overall and 2-1-1 in the OCC-Central Division before playing Central Crossing on Sept. 25. "She is our sparkplug, our general on the field. She's high intensity and attack-oriented. Her presence will only be a positive for us."
Solid defensive play allowed Thomas to remain competitive against some of the area's top teams as well as earn three wins and two ties through 10 games.
The Cardinals rebounded from a 2-0 loss to Dublin Coffman on Sept. 11 by beating Gahanna 1-0 on Sept. 13 behind a goal by defender Karly Boehm. After playing Marysville to a 1-all tie on Sept. 18, they lost to Watterson 1-0 on Sept. 20.
Coffman is ranked third in the Division I state poll this week.
"Winning cures lots of things and I think the win over Gahanna was going to be a steppingstone for us," Barton said. "However, the girls were disappointed with the loss to Watterson. We played extremely well, especially in goal.
"Bethany Geiser is getting better and better in goal. She's definitely much more consistent. She's making the routine plays she should make and she's making the big saves that she wasn't making earlier in the season. She was spectacular against Watterson."
Barton also praised the play of Boehm and defenders Maddie Maxwell, Annie McFarland and Maddie Hamilton in front of Geiser. Jordan Fischbach also has contributed quality minutes in the back, he said.
Barton is optimistic that the Cardinals will play well in the final two weeks of the regular season and gain some momentum heading into the Division I district tournament, which begins Oct. 16.
The tournament draw will be held Oct. 7.
"We're 2-1-1 in the (OCC-Central before Sept. 25) and we still have the chance to win (the league title)," Barton said. "There's plenty of round-robin games remaining and we still play the top two teams -- Olentangy Liberty and Hilliard Davidson."
Thomas plays host to Davidson on Tuesday, Oct. 2, and travels to Liberty on Oct. 9. The Cardinals play host to Worthington Kilbourne in a non-league game Thursday, Sept. 27.
"Kilbourne has a very good team and we've struggled overall this season," Barton said. "But that's a game where it never matters. We tend to play close games no matter which of us is up or down."
Kilbourne was 6-4-1 overall before playing Dublin Jerome on Sept. 25. However, the Wolves were 0-2-1 in their three contests before playing Jerome, which is ranked seventh in the state poll.
"The Kilbourne game is always a big one," Barton said. "The girls still play club and in the youth leagues together, so it is a friendly rivalry. With this not being a league game, we were able to schedule it and make it our senior night as well, so there will be a lot of emotions and it should be a great game."