Getting back into contention for a state title could be a multi-step process for the Thomas Worthington High School field hockey team.
Coming off a state runner-up finish, the Cardinals are replacing four starters lost to graduation and are looking for better health after a series of preseason injuries as they open Thursday, Aug. 28, at Dublin Scioto.
Thomas has won three state championships, including in 2007 and 2011 under coach Terri Simonetti Frost.
"We have a lot of injuries, and I would really just like to work through these injuries and take it one game at a time right now," said Simonetti Frost, who is 205-58-25 entering her 16th season. "Right now we've got a lot more subs who have been playing, and they've been stepping up.
"You don't play this sport to get knocked out. Every year our team goal is to get to the state championship game. Only time will tell."
With senior Ellen Westfall back at goalkeeper, Simonetti Frost is feeling positive about her team's defense. Westfall made first-team all-state last year and is in her fourth season as a starter.
Expected to take on key roles at defender are juniors Hailey Perese and Mallory Weinsz and freshman Paige Lampman.
Junior Hana Sinno, who made first-team all-state a year ago, could see time at midfielder and attacker. Senior Christina Mertz has been a key player since her sophomore year and also could play midfielder and attacker.
Also at midfielder are junior Taylor Insley and Maya McDaniel.
Juniors Ellie Potts and Kelli Hill are returnees at attacker.
Rounding out the senior class is attacker Hannah Plummer.
Sophomore Renuka Shank is the backup goalie.
Others looking to contribute are juniors Brenna Cropper (midfielder/defender) and Liv McKinney (attacker/defender), sophomores Emma Anderson (midfielder/defender), Stephanie Mertz (attacker) and Lindsey Trank (attacker) and freshman Emily Huber (attacker).
The Cardinals, who went 19-1-1 overall and 7-0 to win the Central Ohio Field Hockey League-West Division last season, lost a first-team all-state player in Nina Devine (midfielder) as well as starters Devan Chakroff (attacker), Maddie Goelz (attacker) and Olivia Smith (defender). Goelz is playing for Wittenberg.
"I lost six seniors, and the positions I lost were pretty crucial," Simonetti Frost said. "You just try to find kids to fit those spots."
Kilbourne hopes to continue strides
Kilbourne has taken steady steps forward each of the past three seasons after going 0-16-1 in 2010.
A year ago, the Wolves won one more game than in 2012, finishing 8-8-1 overall and 4-4 in the COFHL-East to place fourth behind champion Columbus Academy (8-0).
Kilbourne's young talent has sixth-year coach Michele Hazzard believing that winning seasons are in the program's future.
The program's overall numbers have jumped from 22 to 34.
Kilbourne opened Aug. 25 by losing 2-1 at home against Dublin Coffman. It plays its league opener Wednesday, Sept. 3, at Bexley.
"I'm anticipating that we're going to improve on our record," Hazzard said. "I think we have the potential to do that. I attribute a lot of it to our booster program because we've been steadily getting kids interested in the program. Of the 15 freshmen we have, eight or 10 of them have played field hockey before."
The Wolves have four seniors, including three who are returning starting forwards in Brittany Ayers, Amy Kruzan and Leah Wesner.
Rounding out the class is defender Alex Demmler.
Also playing on defense are juniors Eleanor Donaldson, Hannah Kome and Erin Riebel and freshman Kaya Giorgione.
Expected to lead the midfield is junior Abby Piecenski, with sophomores Erica Eyen and Allie Garvin and freshman Kate Pilcher also at the position.
Sophomore Carolyn Haase is a returnee who could see time at midfielder and defender.
Other forwards are junior Abby Johnson, sophomore Holly Dargenio and freshman Lindsey Periatt.
Junior Leslie Mendoza is expected to be the goalie, with freshman Katie Harvey serving as the backup.
"We have a very solid forward line and very skilled midfielders," Hazzard said. "I think we're going to be aggressive and we're going to compete and be pretty tough."
Aug. 25 -- vs. Dublin Coffman
*Sept. 3 -- at Bexley
*Sept. 9 -- at Columbus School for Girls
*Sept. 11 -- at Columbus Academy
Sept. 15 -- at Dublin Jerome
*Sept. 17 -- at Dublin Scioto
*Sept. 18 -- at Hartley
*Sept. 22 -- at Granville
Sept. 25 -- vs. Upper Arlington
Sept. 27 -- vs. Rocky River Magnificat
*Sept. 29 -- vs. New Albany
Oct. 1 -- vs. Olentangy Orange
Oct. 4 -- vs. Kettering Fairmont
*Oct. 8 -- at Lancaster
*Aug. 28 -- at Dublin Scioto
*Aug. 30 -- at Olentangy Orange
Sept. 6 -- at Kettering Fairmont
*Sept. 10 -- vs. Upper Arlington
Sept. 13 -- at Cincinnati St. Ursula
*Sept. 15 -- at Olentangy
Sept. 18 -- at Columbus Academy
*Sept. 22 -- vs. Dublin Jerome
*Sept. 25 -- vs. Dublin Coffman
Sept. 27 -- vs. Shaker Heights and Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown
Sept. 29 -- vs. Bexley
*Oct. 1 -- at Olentangy Liberty
Oct. 4 -- at Hudson
Oct. 8 -- vs. Watterson
Oct. 11 -- vs. Louisville (Ky.) Assumption