During a 20-year tenure as Thomas Worthington High School field hockey coach that includes guiding the Cardinals to five state championships, Terri Simonetti Frost has stressed communicating with one another and having every player work on defense regardless of their position.
As important to Simonetti Frost as accomplishments such as winning the past three state titles, though, is the attitude her players take toward one another.
"Our strength is always supporting one another on and off the field," Simonetti Frost said. "We've created a culture that builds on our strengths, how we respond to situations and putting the team first. Everyone works hard for each other."
The Cardinals have central Ohio's best player in senior attacker Sarah Charley and return numerous other key players from last season, when they beat Columbus Academy 1-0 in the state final to finish 21-0.
After beating Olentangy (Aug. 20), Dublin Jerome (Aug. 22) and Dublin Coffman (Aug. 27) all by 9-0 scores, Thomas was 3-0 overall and in the Central Ohio Field Hockey League-West Division and on a 32-game winning streak before facing first-year Olentangy Berlin on Sept. 5.
Charley, an Ohio State commit, had 12 goals through three games after finishing with 28 goals and 24 assists last season.
The Cardinals' second-leading scorer last season, senior midfielder Rachel Rinaldi, also returns after finishing with 20 goals and 24 assists.
Senior goalkeeper Isabelle Perese, a Miami University recruit, had 34 saves last season for a team that gave up just six goals all season.
Other top returnees are senior midfielder Althea Chan (15 goals, 10 assists), senior attacker Anneliese Sinclair (11 goals, 6 assists), sophomore attacker/defender Bella Avila (10 goals, 3 assists), senior attacker Julia Scharff (7 goals, 2 assists), senior defender Reilly Ford and sophomore midfielder Mollie Estepp.
Also playing key roles are seniors Sarah Corbin (attacker) and Izzy Flint-Gonzales (defender).
Others in the program are junior Grace Squires (attacker), sophomores Scarlett Oaks (goalie), Zoe Peveler (mid-fielder/attacker) and Carmen Reis (defender) and freshmen Leila Boussedra (attacker), Ellie Conroy (defender), Cora Hamilton (attacker/defender), Emily Kendall (midfielder/def-ender) and Kate McClellan (midfielder/defender).
"We're trying to fine-tune stuff for the young players and find a system that works," Simonetti Frost said. "I'm really excited. I'm super proud of the girls and all they've accomplished."
Boys runners excited about potential
Losing two of the top 10 finishers in last year's Division I state meet to graduation hasn't knocked the boys cross country team into a complete rebuild.
Junior Zubin Jha, who was the Cardinals' No. 4 runner at state last season, and junior Nate Johnson have given the program a pair of new front runners after the losses of Arjun Jha and Andy Payne, who placed fifth and eighth, respectively, at state last season.
On Aug. 18 in the OHSAA Preseason Invitational at National Trail Raceway, Zubin Jha finished seventh (16 minutes, 31.0 seconds) and Johnson was 10th (16:36.4).
Other key runners include seniors Morgan Chavez and Michael Corbett, juniors Jack Caine and Andres Mira and sophomores Victor Nash and Noah Silliman.
Chavez was the team's No. 6 runner at state last season as the Cardinals placed 11th (258 points) of 20 teams behind champion Hudson (73).
"Zubin Jha and Nate Johnson look to be our top two, and both are very talented," fifth-year coach Bill Darling said. "Our team goals are to try to defend our OCC championship and make it back to the regional championship. A greater goal would be to go back to state, but the kids all know it will take a lot of work to make that happen. I believe they can do it, but we also need them to believe it as well."
Girls runners also have high hopes
With no seniors among his team's top seven last season, 22nd-year girls cross country coach Andy Cox likes the position his more experienced team is in this fall.
"The girls here are extremely positive and are excited about running," Cox said. "We've got a great core back. The varsity seven should be pretty good and we've got a couple freshmen who should be pretty stellar as well."
The top returnee is senior Gia Napoleon, who finished 40th (18:55) at last year's Division I state meet after helping the Cardinals place eighth at regional.
Junior Lydia Miller and sophomore Carina Napoleon give Thomas a strong top three.
Senior Tori Banks, juniors Sydney Cropper, Abby Moulton and Cassidy Shaver and sophomore Morgan Edwards also are key returnees.
Junior Olivia Burrell and freshman Michelina Guerra are others who should contribute.
Miller, according to Cox, made significant progress during the offseason in her training while the Napoleon sisters and Shaver are coming off strong track and field seasons.
"The goals are October," Cox said. "We're a little behind where we'd want to be, but they're shaping up pretty nicely."
Boys golfers to play final OCC round
The boys golf team will compete in the final round of the OCC-Cardinal Division tournament Wednesday, Sept. 12, at Denison Golf Club.
The Cardinals shot a 364 in the third round Aug. 29 at Darby Creek to finish seventh behind first-place Dublin Jerome (293) as Aaron Zeller carded a team-best 74.
The Cardinals are 5-16 in the league through three rounds as Jerome leads at 21-0.
Zeller is sixth overall in league average (75.7).
The girls team concluded OCC-Cardinal action Sept. 5 at Mentel Memorial.
In the third round of the league tournament Aug. 30 at Cooks Creek, Eva Baird and Kate Burnam competed for the Cardinals.
Thomas has had only three players in its program this fall and has not been able to post a team score in league action.
Aug. 18 -- OHSAA Preseason Invitational at National Trail Raceway
Sept. 1 -- Dual at the DeWine's
Sept. 8 -- Wooster Invitational
Sept. 22 -- Saturday Night Lights at Centerville
Sept. 29 -- Midwest Meet of Champions at Hilliard Bradley
Oct. 6 -- Les Eisenhart Invitational at home
Oct. 13 -- OCC-Cardinal meet at Hilliard Davidson
*Aug. 20 -- at Olentangy
*Aug. 22 -- vs. Dublin Jerome
*Aug. 27 -- vs. Dublin Coffman
*Sept. 5 -- at Olentangy Berlin
*Sept. 10 -- at Olentangy Orange
Sept. 12 -- vs. Granville
Sept. 15 -- at Hudson
*Sept. 18 -- at Olentangy Liberty
Sept. 21 -- vs. Shaker Heights
Sept. 22 -- vs. Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown
*Sept. 24 -- at Dublin Scioto
Sept. 26 -- at Columbus Academy
*Oct. 3 -- vs. Upper Arlington
Oct. 5 -- vs. Ann Arbor (Mich.) Pioneer
Oct. 8 -- vs. Kilbourne
Oct. 10 -- vs. Watterson
Below are the coming schedules for the Thomas boys golf, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Sept. 8 -- St. Charles Invitational at Brookside
Sept. 10 -- Gdovin Memorial Invitational at Zanesville Country Club
Sept. 12 -- OCC-Cardinal at Denison Golf Club
Sept. 6 -- Dublin Scioto at Glenross
Sept. 10 -- Hilliard Davidson at Buck Ridge
Sept. 11 -- Delaware at Oakhaven
Sept. 12 -- OCC-Cardinal at Mentel Memorial
Sept. 6 -- Home vs. Pickerington North
Sept. 11 -- At Upper Arlington
Sept. 8 -- Home vs. New Albany
*Sept. 6 -- Home vs. Kilbourne
*Sept. 6 -- At Hilliard Darby
Sept. 8 -- Home vs. Hamilton Township
Sept. 11 -- At Newark