The Worthington Kilbourne High School girls soccer team exceeded expectations this season.
The Wolves finished 12-7-2 overall, tied for second in the OCC-Capital Division and reached a Division I district final before losing to third-seeded Hilliard Davidson 3-0 on Oct. 26 at Canal Winchester.
"Considering we had 10 underclassmen of the 17 or 18 girls on the regular-season roster, I think the girls came together really well," coach Courtney Irwin said. "We had some key injuries about two weeks before the tournament draw and we lost some games we shouldn't have. We could've had a little higher seed, but being seeded 14th and reaching a district final says something about these girls. We had just five seniors and they reached the final in back-to-back years."
Kilbourne defeated 34th-seeded Teays Valley 10-0 in the first round Oct. 15, 18th-seeded Gahanna 2-1 in overtime in the second round Oct. 17 and fifth-seeded Westerville Central 1-0 in a district semifinal Oct. 22.
"Our goal at the beginning (of the season) was to get back to (a district) final and win it, but the way we started the season was a little shocking and it took us some time to build things up," senior sweeper Celeste Fushimi-Karns said. "Considering that, I think we did well. We got stronger skill-wise and in team chemistry and we progressed in the midfield and on defense."
Kilbourne and New Albany both went 4-2 in the OCC-Capital to finish behind Olentangy Orange (6-0) and ahead of Olentangy (3-2-1), Big Walnut and Delaware (both 1-4-1) and Mount Vernon (0-5-1).
The Wolves lose five seniors in Fushimi-Karns, midfielder Erin Mahaffey, defenders Erika Simpson and Alison Wirt and forward Kelley Zebrowski.
Fushimi-Karns, who has committed to Ohio University and had six goals and 12 assists, was named first-team all-district and all-league and Zebroski, who had 21 goals, was second-team all-district and first-team all-league. Mahaffey was special mention all-league.
"We didn't have a huge senior class, but those girls will be hard to replace," Irwin said. "Celeste was a four-year starter on defense, but we will return our keeper and many girls who earned significant playing time."
Among the expected returnees are juniors Claire Chilcoat (forward), Mia Greco (defender) and Alex Lawrence (goalie), sophomores Annie Mosca (midfielder), Carli Taute (forward) and Julia Tout (defender) and freshman Abby Eymann (midfielder). Mosca, Taute and Tout were second-team all-league and Lawrence was honorable mention all-league.
Thomas boys team finished strong
The Thomas boys team won nine of its final 11 games to finish 11-6-1 overall.
The Cardinals, who lost to ninth-seeded Westerville Central 4-1 in a Division I district semifinal Oct. 23, had gone 2-4-1 in their first seven games.
"It took a while for us to come together and learn to trust the system and methodologies I put into place, but a first-year coach couldn't ask for a better senior class," coach Carlos Bonilla said.
"It was a privilege to coach them because they worked hard and embraced what we were trying to do. Their final record proves they believed in what we were doing."
Seeded 10th, Thomas had a first-round bye and defeated 45th-seeded Groveport 5-1 in the second round Oct. 19 before falling to Westerville Central.
The Cardinals went 5-2 in the OCC-Central to tie Olentangy Liberty for second, behind Dublin
Coffman (6-1) and ahead of Davidson (4-2-1), Upper Arlington (4-3), Marysville (2-4-1), Westland (1-6) and Central Crossing (0-7).
Thomas loses 10 seniors, including Kofi Agyepong (midfielder), Ben Frazier (forward), Tommy Hoerauf (defender), Marcos Viscaino (forward), Stephen Withers (defender) and Hunter Young (defender).
Frazier was named first-team all-district and all-league. Withers also was first-team all-league, and Agyepong, Viscaino and Young were second-team all-league.
"I think we have the pieces to continue to get better and eventually get us back to where Thomas Worthington needs to be," Bonilla said. "We're three-time state champions, and that's the level we need to get back to."
Expected to return are juniors Andrew Edison (midfielder), Austin Haimerl (midfielder), David Alex Medina (defender), Alex Nesterov (goalie) and Jordyn Tennant (midfielder) and sophomore Ezekiel Morris (midfielder).
Tennant was special mention all-league and Edison was honorable mention all-league.
Kilbourne boys team losing 'special' seniors
The Kilbourne boys team lost to 12th-seeded St. Charles 1-0 in overtime in a Division I district semifinal Oct. 23 to finish 9-4-5 overall.
Seeded eighth, the Wolves had a first-round bye and defeated 43rd-seeded Columbus West 2-0 in the second round Oct. 19 before falling to St. Charles.
"It was a tough defensive struggle and neither team had many opportunities at all," coach Jon Sprunger said of the game against St. Charles. "It was just a dogfight in the middle of the field. But they hit a cross (pass) into the middle of the box with about 10 minutes left in overtime and it more or less bounced off (the) leg (of St. Charles forward Jack Engert) and in."
Kilbourne went 5-0-2 in the OCC-Capital to place second, behind New Albany (6-0-1) and ahead of Orange (5-1-1), Olentangy (4-3), Big Walnut (3-4), Delaware (2-5), Mount Vernon (1-6) and Franklin Heights (0-7).
The Wolves lose 11 seniors, including seven starters in Joey Cipicchio (goalie), Ray Gardner (midfielder), Carter Grimm (defender), Jake Kovacs (forward), Grant Nash (forward), Lucky Shaut (midfielder) and Sam Shaffer (defender). Another key senior was Harrison Valez (forward). Kilbourne also loses exchange student Andreas Endersen (midfielder).
"We had a good season and we had a special senior class," Sprunger said. "It's a shame their careers had to end in sudden victory, but that's soccer. We went 9-4-5 and, based on our schedule, that is very good. Central Ohio teams are very good this season and whoever gets out of our regional could win the state championship."
Cipicchio, who had 43 saves and has verbally committed to Brown University, was first-team all-league and all-district and Grimm was first-team all-league and second-team all-district. Kovacs and Nash were second-team all-league, Shaffer was special mention and Gardner was honorable mention.
Grimm and Valez both scored four goals and Kovacs and Gardner both had five assists.
Among those expected to return are juniors Justin Jiang (midfielder), Ian Price (defender) and James Reymann (midfielder), sophomores Alex Cash (defender) and Clark Moats (defender) and freshman George Pearon (forward).
Moats was second-team all-league, and Pearon had a team-high six goals and three assists.
Thomas girls team losing seven seniors
The Thomas girls team's season ended with a 3-0 loss to seventh-seeded Dublin Jerome in a Division I district semifinal Oct. 22.
The Cardinals, who were seeded ninth and defeated 30th-seeded Delaware 6-1 on Oct. 15 and 29th-seeded Reynoldsburg 4-0 on Oct. 17.
Thomas finished 11-6-2 overall and went 4-3 in the OCC-Central to place fourth, behind Coffman (6-0-1), Davidson (5-1-1) and Liberty (4-2-1) and ahead of Marysville (3-3-1), UA (2-3-2), Central Crossing (1-6) and Westland (0-7).
The Cardinals lose seven seniors, including goalie Bethany Geiser and forward Fatima Said.
Said was first-team all-league and Geiser was honorable mention all-league.
Expected back are juniors Tara Banks (defender), Jordan Fischbach (defender), Jenna Szabo (forward) and Brea Weber (forward), sophomores Maddie Hamilton (midfielder), Jessica Schweickart (defender), Grace Smith (midfielder), Madelyn Snyder (defender) and Marissa Weiner (midfielder) and freshman Grace DeLuca (forward).
Szabo led the team in scoring with 13 goals and nine assists and was first-team all-league. DeLuca was second-team all-league and Smith was special mention all-league.