The Thomas Worthington High School girls lacrosse team is celebrating its 40th season, and coach Ally McCarthy-Minister hopes the Cardinals honor the tradition established by past squads by putting together another strong year.
Thomas, which finished 12-7 overall last year, opens Tuesday, April 2, at Columbus Academy.
"John Galipault Sr. founded the first girls lacrosse program in Ohio here 40 years ago, and we take a lot of pride in the history and tradition of this program," said McCarthy-Minister, who is in her ninth season. "We're excited about this being our 40th year and we want to do well to give respect to all of the girls who came before us. We strive to be leaders in sportsmanship and with the way we play the game."
McCarthy-Minister has good reason to feel optimistic about the season. The Cardinals feature nine returning starters in seniors Hannah Heinke-Green (attacker) and Tonycia Melfe (midfielder) and juniors Liza Carey (midfielder), Devan Chakroff (midfielder), Claire Durfee (midfielder), Chelsei Fullerton (defender), Mara Sheban (midfielder), Jasmin Singh (defender) and Abby Strasser (defender).
Last year, Carey (52 goals, 21 assists) was first-team all-OCC-Buckeye Division, all-region and all-state, and Durfee was honorable mention all-league.
Vying to start at goalkeeper are junior Faith Mahnke, sophomore Victoria Hirsel and freshman Kelli Hill.
Freshmen Zoe Collaros (attacker), Ellie Poss (defender) and Mallary Weinsz (attacker) also are expected to contribute.
"We have many returning players from last season and our girls have grown both individually and as a team," McCarthy-Minister said. "They feel comfortable together on the field because they know each other so well and can read where their teammates are going. We're going to be a very good transition team that moves the ball up the field really well."
Last season, the Cardinals went 2-3 in the OCC-Buckeye to finish fourth behind Upper Arlington (5-0), New Albany (4-1) and Worthington Kilbourne (3-2) and ahead of Dublin Coffman (1-4) and Hilliard Darby (0-5).
In the Division I South/Central Region tournament, Thomas defeated Dublin Scioto 14-4 and beat Coffman 14-13 in three overtimes before losing to UA 18-5 in a final.
"Our conference is always very strong, but we want to win as many games as we can and take this team as far in the tournament as it can go," McCarthy-Minister said.
Wolves looking for another big year
Kilbourne, which finished 15-3-1 overall last year and advanced to a Division II state semifinal, opened by defeating Cincinnati Mariemont 12-7 on March 22 and Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame 21-13 on March 23.
The Wolves feature eight returning starters in seniors Alex Malone (goalkeeper), Lexie Walton (attacker) and Maria Whitesel (defender), junior Kara Hines (midfielder) and sophomores Miriam Bassani (attacker), Maggie Baumgardner (midfielder), Allison Martz (attacker) and Kaitlin Troutner (defender).
Last year, Hines was second-team all-league and all-region, and Bassani was honorable mention all-league.
Rounding out the roster are seniors Alycia Kingcade (attacker) and Abby Gascon (midfielder), juniors Addy Boyles (goalie) and Nichole Viscoglosi (defender), sophomores Maggie Baumgardner (midfielder), Alex Lawrence (attacker), Lauren Spangler (defender), Riley Spencer (defender) and Leah Wesner (defender) and freshmen Grace Cameron (midfielder), Maya Happ (defender) and Abby Miller (attacker).
"We have a lot of starters back, but we graduated two-thirds of our points and two-thirds of our defense, so we took a big hit in those areas," 22nd-year coach Doug Troutner said. "We're looking for replacements in those areas and we've moved a lot of our girls to different positions, trying to find our strongest lineup. There's been a lot of enthusiasm and willingness among our players when it comes to listening to what their coaches have to say."
Playing in Division II for the first time a year ago, the Wolves opened the postseason by defeating Cincinnati Mother of Mercy 16-4, Cincinnati Summit Country Day 16-15 in overtime and Mariemont 15-13 in a South/Central Region final.
Kilbourne then lost to Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown 16-13 in a state semifinal.
"I've been the only head coach at Kilbourne and I can say that last year was definitely our most successful season," Troutner said. "The girls loved the taste of the state tournament and they want to get back there, but we have a lot of new faces and there are still so many things we have to learn. It's going to come down to how hard we work and how much we improve this season."