The Worthington Kilbourne High School girls lacrosse team is coming off its best season in program history.
Not only did the Wolves score a program-record 324 goals and break their mark for wins by finishing 17-4 overall, but they advanced to the Division II state final for the first time, losing to New Albany 11-10.
Having returned nine players who started multiple games last season, coach Doug Troutner doesn't see any reason why his team can't match or even surpass what it accomplished a year ago.
The Wolves opened March 22 with an 11-6 loss to last year's Division I state runner-up, Cincinnati Sycamore. They played Olentangy on March 25 and play host to Hartley on Thursday, March 27.
"A lot of times when a team makes it to the state championship game for the first time, they are full of seniors and they need to rebuild the following season," Troutner said. "A lot of people who don't know a lot about us don't understand how young we were last year. We had a lot of sophomores and juniors playing key positions and those players are back, so I feel like we have the potential to put together another really good season as long as we keep working hard and getting better."
Kilbourne has won regional titles the past two seasons, but Troutner knows that doesn't guarantee postseason success this year.
"They aren't inviting us back to the state championship game just because of who we have back on our team," he said. "We'll need to earn the right to play in that game again. We know we have to keep getting better or we won't get that opportunity."
The returning starters are seniors Kara Hines (midfielder) and Nichole Viscolglosi (defender), juniors Miriam Bassani (attacker), Maggie Baumgardner (midfielder), Alex Lawrence (attacker), Allison Martz (attacker), Riley Spencer (attacker) and Kaitlin Troutner (defender) and sophomore Grace Cameron (midfielder). Last season, Bassani had 71 goals and 26 assists and was named honorable mention All-American and first-team all-state, all-region and all-OCC-Buckeye Division, and Hines had 64 goals and was honorable mention All-American and first-team all-state, all-region and all-league.
Baumgardner had 27 goals and was second-team all-region and all-league, Martz had 40 goals and 27 assists and was honorable mention all-league and Cameron had 17 goals and seven assists.
Also starting are senior defender Tylar Pruiksma, a move-in from Atlanta, and senior goalkeeper Addy Boyles.
Rounding out the roster are juniors Ashley Garrison (midfielder), Alexis Greer (goalie), Emily Henthorn (midfielder) and Leah Wesner (defender), sophomores Grace Good (midfielder), Maya Happ (defender) and Abby Miller (attacker) and freshmen Abby Eymann (midfielder) and Emma Sayer (defender).
"Our girls have a lot of experience and knowledge within our system so they already understand the background of what we do," coach Troutner said. "The nice thing is their experience gives us the opportunity to try some new things on offense and defense because they already know how to play in our old system."
Kilbourne, which placed third (3-2) in the OCC-Buckeye last season behind 2013 Division I state champion Upper Arlington (5-0) and New Albany (4-1), is competing in the OCC-Cardinal this year with Dublin Jerome, Dublin Scioto, Hilliard Bradley, Hilliard Darby and Marysville.
The Wolves open league play April 3 at home against Darby.
"Our new division of the OCC isn't as strong from top to bottom as what we've seen in the past, but there's still some good competition in there," coach Troutner said. "Hilliard Bradley did a great job last year (by placing second in the OCC-Ohio) and there's always the opportunity for some surprises."
Cardinals loaded with experience
Experience should help Thomas as it looks to build on last season, when it finished 11-6 overall.
The Cardinals, who opened March 25 at home against Olentangy Liberty in an OCC-Central game, have returned 11 players who gained starting experience last season in seniors Liza Carey (midfielder), Devan Chakroff (midfielder), Claire Durfee (attacker), Chelsei Fullerton (defender), Mara Sheban (midfielder), Jasmin Singh (midfielder), and Abby Strasser (defender) and sophomores Zoe Collaros (attacker), Kelli Hill (goalie), Ellie Poss (defender) and Mallary Weinsz (attacker).
Last season, Carey had 69 goals and 21 assists and was first-team all-state, all-region and all-OCC-Buckeye, and Sheban had 11 goals and 11 assists and was second-team all-region and first-team all-league.
Hill was second-team all-region and honorable mention all-league, Durfee had 30 goals and 11 assists and was honorable mention all-region and Singh was second-team all-league. Weinsz had 18 goals and 12 assists.
Completing the roster are juniors Haley Carnahan (midfielder), Jordan Fischbach (defender), Mara Muelheim (midfielder), Hannah Plummer (defender) and Maggie Taylor (attacker), sophomore Olivia Capuano (defender) and freshmen Caroline Gnezda (defender) and Jenna Rao (defender).
"This is one of the deepest, most experienced teams I've ever had," 10th-year coach Ally McCarthy-Minister said. "We have a great group of outstanding players who work well together. Our seven seniors have been a key part of our program for four years and they are a talented, dedicated group."
Thomas, which placed fourth (2-3) in the OCC-Buckeye last year, is competing in the OCC-Central this season with Liberty, Dublin Coffman, Hilliard Davidson and Upper Arlington.
"We look forward to the opportunity to play the new teams in our league, but our main focus is how we do in the (Division I South/Central Region) tournament," McCarthy-Minister said.
The Cardinals lost to Coffman 13-12 in the second round of the regional tournament last season.