Despite returning several key contributors to her team's offense, Thomas Worthington High School field hockey coach Terri Simonetti Frost felt like she was putting together a puzzle during the preseason.
But having an unexpected piece to add to the mix hasn't hurt.
Sophomore midfielder/attacker Hana Sinno, who scored the winning goal for Columbus Academy in its 2-1 state championship win over Watterson last fall, transferred to Thomas during the offseason.
Sinno joins an experienced group of attackers returning from a team that went 13-2-3 and lost to Watterson 1-0 in a district final, including seniors Devan Chakroff and Maddie Goelz and junior Christina Mertz.
Mertz was the second-leading scorer a year ago with seven goals and six assists.
"We're just solid," Simonetti Frost said. "It's like building blocks. You're trying to find the ins and outs of what works for this year. Every year is so different because you have to find how to play off one another. When they do play together and maintain their positions, we can have a true passing game."
The other seniors are midfielders Nina Devine and Natalie Rabold and defender Olivia Smith.
Junior Ellen Westfall is back at goalkeeper.
Sophomore midfielder Taylor Insley is another expected to contribute, although she battled injuries throughout the preseason.
Other key players should include sophomores Kelli Hill (attacker), Hailey Perese (defender), Ellie Potts (attacker) and Mallory Weinsz (defender).
Devine, Chakroff and Westfall are among the players who helped the Cardinals win the state championship in 2011. Devine scored the only goal in the 1-0 win over Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown in the state final that year.
The Cardinals went 7-2-2 in the Central Ohio Field Hockey League last season to finish behind champion Academy (10-0-1).
The COFHL has been split into two divisions, with the Cardinals now competing in the West with Dublin Coffman, Dublin Jerome, Dublin Scioto, Olentangy, Olentangy Liberty, Olentangy Orange and Upper Arlington.
The Cardinals opened Aug. 28 against Scioto.
Kilbourne will be joined in the East Division by Academy, Bexley, Columbus School for Girls, Granville, Hartley, New Albany, Lancaster and Watterson.
Each team also will have two forced crossover games that will not affect the regular-season standings. Thomas' crossover games will be against Academy (Sept. 19) and Watterson (Oct. 8).
The champion of each division will meet for the COFHL title Oct. 12.
The biggest loss to graduation for the Cardinals was Katie Holman, who had 12 goals and eight assists a year ago.
"I'm young defensively, but I'm very solid in the midfield," Simonetti Frost said. "My goalie looks phenomenal. ... (Sinno) definitely adds a lot offensively."
Kilbourne hopes to continue strides
After going 0-16-1 in 2010 and 3-14 in 2011, Kilbourne improved to 7-9-1 overall and placed eighth in the COFHL a year ago at 6-5.
The Wolves hope to continue moving forward despite losing nine players to graduation, including four who were key players since their freshman seasons in Emily Cantrell, Molly Fish, Allie Riebel and Shelby Taylor.
Back to lead the way are seniors Addy Boyles (defender), Gabrielle Dendinger (defender), Lauren Hedges (midfielder) and Kate Thompson (goalie).
Kilbourne opened Aug. 26 with a 2-1 loss to host Coffman.
"We have a really small team, but we've got a lot of potential with the girls we have," coach Michele Hazzard said. "With a small team, it's hard to put all the pieces together, but we've had a ton of scrimmages and each time they worked on something. I'm really happy with their improvement.
"Each year we've steadily gone up in the standings and I think each year we're gradually getting a little better offensively. Two years ago we only scored five goals the whole season and last year we started to win more of those closer games."
Other expected key players are seniors Cassie Frontz (attacker) and Lindsey Whittemore, sophomores Amy Kruzan (attacker), Abby Piecenski (midfielder) and Leah Wesner (attacker) and freshman Carolyn Haase (midfielder).
"I think we have a really strong midfield, and they've really been able to push the ball forward," Hazzard said. "Our forwards are really starting to click. We lost 2-0 (to Thomas in a scrimmage Aug. 21) but we definitely really held strong. They scored two quick goals on us early and then we held tough."
Kilbourne played its COFHL-East opener Aug. 28 against Watterson. Its crossover games were against Coffman and Oct. 2 against UA.