Two years ago, then-sophomore Maddie Goelz played a key role in helping the Thomas Worthington High School field hockey team capture its third state championship.
The bond that the Cardinals have forged this season while making it back to the state tournament reminds Goelz of the 2011 team.
"The teams are actually pretty similar," said Goelz, a senior attacker. "There are some years that you just click better than others. We just work really hard together and it's all come out to this. We're so excited."
Thomas faced perhaps the most adversity of its season Oct. 26 when it had to rally from a 2-1 deficit to beat Olentangy Liberty 4-2 in a district final at Dublin Jerome.
The Cardinals, who lost to Watterson 1-0 in a district final last year, improved to 18-0-1 and advanced to play Shaker Heights in a state semifinal at noon Friday, Nov. 1, at Upper Arlington.
Shaker Heights is 17-1, with its only loss coming at the hands of the Cardinals, 3-0 on Sept. 28.
The Red Raiders snapped Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown's streak of 11 consecutive state appearances by beating the Blazers 3-1 in a district final Oct. 26. They had lost to Hathaway Brown in a district final the past three seasons.
Kasidy Anderson had two goals and Marcia Brown scored one to lead Shaker Heights in its win over Hathaway Brown.
The semifinal winner will face defending state champion Columbus Academy or Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame in the state final at 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 2, at UA.
Thomas' only non-win this season came against Academy, as the teams tied at 1 on Sept. 19. The teams met again Oct. 12, with the Cardinals winning 3-1.
Thomas has yet to play Mount Notre Dame this season.
"I'm pumped," coach Terri Simonetti Frost said. "At this point, you have to win two more and, if you're in the final four, you're a great team. You have to play 60 minutes, and my team played 60 minutes (in the district final)."
Academy improved to 16-2-1 with a 2-1 double-overtime win over Watterson in a district final Oct. 26 at Jerome. Paige Berliner scored the winning goal with 6 minutes, 25 seconds left in the second overtime.
The Vikings also beat Watterson 2-1 in two overtimes in the state final last season, with Hana Sinno scoring the winning goal.
Sinno, a sophomore attacker/midfielder, transferred to Thomas during the summer and scored against Liberty in the district final. Her goal with 20 minutes left tied the game at 2.
Junior attacker Christina Mertz scored with 12:51 left to put the Cardinals ahead 3-2 and Goelz tacked on a goal with 1:41 remaining. Junior goalkeeper Ellen Westfall, a three-year starter, had five saves.
"I knew we were going to win after we scored the third goal," Mertz said.
The Cardinals, who have allowed just five goals in 19 games, are making their 10th state appearance. Seven of those appearances have come during Simonetti Frost's 15-year tenure as coach.
"Once we (fell behind against Liberty), we definitely picked up the pace and communicated a lot better and were more determined," Goelz said. "We had to show off how hard we've worked this year."
Mount Notre Dame, which has reached state for the first time since 2008, beat Cincinnati Ursuline 1-0 in a district final Oct. 26. Moriah Flynn scored the game's lone goal, deflecting a shot off of a defender's stick and into the cage with 23:39 left, and goalie Ally Benz made 11 saves.
Wolves fall to Academy in semifinal
Kilbourne senior goalie Kate Thompson recorded 35 saves in a 5-0 loss to Academy in a district semifinal Oct. 22.
The ninth-seeded Wolves defeated 10th-seeded Hartley 1-0 in the first round Oct. 16.