The Thomas Worthington High School boys lacrosse team plays host to Worthington Kilbourne on Thursday, April 17, in an OCC-Buckeye Division game featuring squads that have experienced drastically different starts.
The Wolves have been hot, starting 2-0 in the league and winning each of their first seven games before playing DeSales on April 15.
The Cardinals have struggled, losing their last six games to drop to 1-6 overall and 0-2 in the OCC-Buckeye.
Regardless of those contrasting starts, Kilbourne goaltender Mike Turnbull said the Wolves are looking forward to a competitive game. They defeated Thomas 12-3 a year ago.
"This is always a big game for both teams regardless of our records because we're the two Worthington schools and we both want to win this game pretty badly," Turnbull said.
The Wolves then play host to Upper Arlington on Wednesday, April 23, in another key league game. The eventual state champion Golden Bears defeated Kilbourne 7-5 in a Division I Central Region final last season after also beating the Wolves 10-3 during the regular season.
"These are both important games that we've been looking forward to for a long time," Turnbull said.
For the Wolves to win both, Turnbull said Dylan Bishop, Matt Lacey, Mike Viera and Taylor Wilson will need to continue playing strong defense in front of him. Kilbourne gave up 35 goals in its first seven games.
"We have all of our defensive leaders back and I've been getting the shots I want to see," Turnbull said.
He also would like to see his squad continue to be resilient, as the Wolves rallied from a four-goal halftime deficit to defeat Cincinnati Moeller 13-9 on March 26 and came back from a three-goal halftime deficit to beat Northfield (Ill.) New Trier 8-6 on April 3.
Against Moeller, Josh Happ scored five goals, Tyler Roe scored three, Joe Davis scored two and Turnbull had seven saves.
Against New Trier, Happ scored five goals and Davis, Jayce Miller and Jake Weirick each scored one.
"We're excited because we've played well and come up with a couple of big comeback wins," Turnbull said. "Our offense was a question mark entering the season, but we're clicking and scoring a lot of goals."
Thomas defender Cody Hootman said the Cardinals are looking to upset the Wolves and end their losing streak.
"Kilbourne probably doesn't respect us because of our record this year, so we need to come out hard early to catch them by surprise," Hootman said.
"The biggest thing is we need to play with more energy, passion and confidence."
On March 26, the Cardinals opened with an 8-4 victory at New Albany, as Enzo Gianfagna and Justin May each scored two goals, Michael Hilliard, Luke Porteus, Michael Schonhiutt and Ian Westfall each scored one and Sam MacKenzie had 12 saves.
But Thomas scored seven goals or fewer while losing its following six contests, including 7-6 overtime losses to St. Charles on April 5 and Sewickley (Pa.) on April 13.
"We're looking at the Kilbourne game as a chance for a major turning point in our season because we need to prove we're a good team," Hootman said.
Thomas girls start strong
Thomas' girls team is 1-1 in the OCC-Central and had won eight of its first nine games before playing Olentangy Orange on April 14.
Except for a 13-12 overtime win over Columbus Academy on April 1, the Cardinals had earned their victories by three or more goals.
Against Academy, Liza Carey scored seven goals, including the winner in overtime. Zoe Collaros scored three goals, Haley Carnahan, Ellie Poss and Jasmin Singh each scored one and Kelli Hill had nine saves.
Coach Ally McCarthy-Minister said her defensive unit of Olivia Capuano, Chelsei Fullerton, Hill, Poss and Abby Strasser played well in an 11-8 league loss at Upper Arlington on April 8.
"Our defense has really come together and we played a fantastic defensive game against Upper Arlington, where we held off their strong attack," McCarthy-Minister said. "I was also impressed with how our team never lost focus or gave up in our intense back-and-forth game against Columbus Academy."
Entering the week, Carey had 40 goals and 13 assists, Claire Durfee had 16 goals and six assists, Mallary Weinsz had 16 goals and four assists, Singh had 11 goals and four assists and Hill had 73 saves.
"We have a lot of players who can shoot and score, so it's hard for teams to focus on taking away one of our players because we have five or six other girls who can step up and score in their place," McCarthy-Minister said. "Kelli Hill is having a fantastic season, too."
Kilbourne is 2-0 in the OCC-Cardinal and was 6-2 overall before playing UA on April 15.
The Wolves earned each of their first six wins by at least seven goals, including four by 12 or more.
In the Hannigan-Galipault Tournament at Thomas, Kilbourne beat Lake Zurich (Ill.) 17-4 on April 11 and Cleveland Heights 15-3 on April 12.
"We haven't won any extremely competitive games yet," coach Doug Troutner said. "Our wins have been blowouts and our losses were close games."
The Wolves lost to Cincinnati Sycamore 11-6 on March 22 and to Mason 15-10 on April 4. Sycamore was ranked first and Mason was third in last week's Division I state poll.
"We played fairly well in both of our losses against really good teams," Troutner said. "We learned a lot about ourselves and what it takes to win these kinds of games. The Mason game was in our grasp. We were down 10-9 at one point, but we made some silly mistakes and were outscored 5-1 the rest of the way."
Leading Kilbourne in goals before April 15 were Miriam Bassani (38), Allison Martz (25), Kara Hines (15), Maggie Baumgardner (11) and Grace Cameron (10). Martz also had 20 assists and Bassani had 11.
"Miriam is having a great season, but we have a great supporting cast around her who can pick up the pace when we need them to," Troutner said. "Tylar Pruiksma, our move-in from Atlanta, also is getting comfortable in our system and beginning to play really well on defense."