The injury bug has bitten the Columbus School for Girls soccer team and won't seem to let go.

The Unicorns have lost three key performers to injury as they try to improve on last season, when they finished 7-7-3 overall and placed fourth in the CCL at 1-2-1, behind champion DeSales (3-0-1).

CSG lost its top returning scorer in sophomore forward Nyah Funderburke (5 goals last season) to a torn ACL in her right knee and its top scorer through four games in sophomore forward Lillian Houser, a transfer from Olentangy who has five goals, to a foot injury.

In addition, senior defender Sydney Bennett, who was second-team all-district and first-team all-league last season, also has a foot injury.

"I think I'm happy that the injuries came now instead of later," said eighth-year coach Mindy Hammond, whose team was 2-2-1 before playing Groveport on Sept. 11 and opens league play Thursday, Sept. 13, against Watterson at Otterbein. "We can get some of our kids experience now that can help us in October.

"Certainly with (the injured) being key players, it hurts with our scoring opportunities and it might hurt our confidence. But the kids just keep continuing to fight, and we keep getting better."

Senior midfielder Hattie Person, who was first-team all-league and had four goals and three assists last season, had two goals through five games.

"We need to stay tough and play with who we have," Person said. "We have to work together and play with heart, and that will help get us through it."

Seniors Merrill Arthur (5 goals last season) and Maggie Houston and junior Blair Glimcher return at forward, but injuries have forced Hammond to move Houston to the back and Glimcher to the midfield.

Also playing in the back are senior Annie Feibel and sophomores Greta Schoettmer and Eva Nicolosi, who played goalkeeper last fall but has moved to defender. Freshman Emma Spangler has taken over in goal.

CSG opened Aug. 21 with a 2-0 loss to Worthington Christian before tying Fairbanks at 3 on Aug. 28. Houser had three goals in a 6-1 win over Fisher Catholic on Aug. 30, and the Unicorns defeated Whetstone 3-0 on Sept. 4 before losing to Wellington 2-0 on Sept. 6.

Young volleyball team adjusting to new roles

The volleyball team is filled with young players working to improve under second-year coach Clint Gentry.

The Unicorns return four starters from last season, when they finished 15-9 overall and placed fourth in the CCL at 2-6, behind champion DeSales (8-0).

Senior outside hitter Haley Kuproski returns, as does senior libero Hailey Kurth, junior defensive specialist Peyton Jackson and sophomore Bella Sloan, who has moved from middle hitter to outside hitter.

"We're very young and very inexperienced," said Gentry, whose team was 1-5 overall and 0-3 CCL before playing Hartley on Sept. 11. "We're working a lot on fundamentals and we have a lot of players who have moved around, so they are playing in unfamiliar positions."

Junior McKenzie Stringer is the team's setter and sophomore Emma Salamon is making an impact at middle hitter. Senior Rachel Yee has played right-side hitter.

Juniors Emily Donat (defensive specialist), Khari Lamar (libero/defensive specialist), Bella Lyons (defensive specialist) and Frances Poth (middle hitter), sophomore Alexandria Rodgers (middle/outside hitter) and freshmen Maya Gonela (outside hitter) and Catherine Lyons (setter) also have seen playing time.

"From day one until today, we have improved a lot on defense," Gentry said. "They are better in terms of knowing where to be, keeping their weight forward on their toes and going after the ball."

The Unicorns defeated Bexley 18-25, 25-18, 25-21, 25-21 on Aug. 27. They opened Aug. 23 by losing to Bloom-Carroll 25-13, 25-15, 23-25, 25-17 and lost to Newark Catholic 25-13, 25-18, 25-11 on Aug. 30.

In CCL play, CSG lost to DeSales 25-15, 25-12, 25-5 on Aug. 28, Watterson 25-9, 25-5, 25-10 on Sept. 4 and Ready 25-9, 25-17, 21-25, 21-25, 15-7 on Sept. 6.

Field hockey team returns seven starters

The field hockey team returns seven starters from last season, when it finished 3-11-3 overall and placed seventh in the Central Ohio Field Hockey League-East Division at 1-5-2, behind champion Granville (8-0).

The returning starters are senior forward Hannah Lonser, senior midfielder Katie Wagenbrenner, senior defenders Margeaux Rocco and Roya Shahinfar, junior midfielder Maura Donnelly, sophomore goalie Olivia Barry-Wilson (78 saves last season) and sophomore forward Kayla Carpenter.

"They really listen and they are always after the ball," said sixth-year coach Jessica Schirner, whose team was 2-5 overall and 1-2 in the COFHL-East before playing Lancaster on Sept. 12.

"They never are going to give up and they really fight to the end. They never stop playing, and it's a group of girls that work well together."

Junior Ellen Monahan, a standout lacrosse player, has joined the program for the first time as a center-midfielder.

Rocco and Shahinfar will be joined on the defensive end by sophomores Gabby Anthony and Charlotte Love.

"I think the four girls we have on the defensive line are very strong," Schirner said. "Charlotte moved over here from England, and she really has good stick skills."

The Unicorns lost their opener to Cincinnati Indian Hill 3-2 on Aug. 18 before losing to Dublin Coffman 2-0 on Aug. 22. They lost their league opener to Granville 2-1 on Aug 23.

CSG defeated Hartley 1-0 on Aug. 28 and lost to Watterson 5-0 on Sept. 4 in a pair of league contests.

The Unicorns defeated Olentangy 3-2 on Aug. 28 and lost to the Hilliard Lynx 1-0 on Sept. 6.

'Rookies' add spark to cross country team

Coach Patrick Helgerman hopes to get his newcomers up to speed in his second season as cross country coach.

Senior Eleanor Richardson leads the returnees after finishing 91st of 133 runners in 23 minutes, 7.76 seconds in the Division III regional meet last fall at Pickerington North.

Joining Richardson in the top five are seniors Sarah O'Dell and Mackenzie Peterson and freshmen Natasha Spivak and Rebecca Tepper.

Senior Elizabeth Tierney, juniors Katrina D'Arms and Katie Pawlik, sophomore Amanda Barok and freshmen Molly Pawlik and Lauren Sloan also are looking for time in the top seven.

D'Arms and Peterson, as well as the four freshmen, are new to the program.

"Even though we brought back everyone from last year that didn't graduate, we have 13 rookies total this season," said Helgerman, who has 22 runners in the program. "That means there are going to be some surprises and some upheaval from last year."

The Unicorns opened Aug. 20 by placing fourth (86 points) of nine teams in the Galion Northmor Invitational, behind champion Fredericktown (43). Tepper (11th, 23:21.44) and Spivak (12th, 23:24.32) led CSG.

"Rebecca Tepper and Natasha Spivak are great additions to our team," said Helgerman, whose team finished fourth (90) in the CCL last season behind champion DeSales (37). "Neither one is afraid to race with the veterans on the team or to see what they are capable of doing. They will be fun to watch."

shennen@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekHennen

Schedules

CROSS COUNTRY

Aug. 20 -- Galion Northmor Invitational

Aug. 25 -- Newark Catholic Invitational at Bryn Du Mansion

Sept. 1 -- Village Academy Griffin Open

Sept. 8 -- McGowan Invitational at Watkins Memorial

Sept. 15 -- Grandview Invitational at Camp Bobcat

Sept. 22 -- Madison Christian Invitational

Sept. 29 -- North Union Invitational

Oct. 3 -- Backwoods Two-Mile Fest at Thornville Sheridan

Oct. 13 -- CCL meet at Otterbein

FIELD HOCKEY

Aug. 18 -- vs. Cincinnati Indian Hill

Aug. 22 -- at Dublin Coffman

*Aug. 23 -- vs. Granville

Aug. 28 -- vs. Olentangy

*Aug. 30 -- vs. Hartley

*Sept. 4 -- vs. Watterson

Sept. 6 -- vs. Hilliard Lynx

*Sept. 12 -- at Lancaster

*Sept. 13 -- vs. Worthington Kilbourne

*Sept. 17 -- at Columbus Academy

*Sept. 24 -- at Bexley

*Sept. 26 -- at New Albany

Oct. 1 -- at Dublin Jerome

Oct. 8 -- vs. Olentangy Berlin

Oct. 11 -- vs. Dublin Scioto

SOCCER

Aug. 21 -- vs. Worthington Christian

Aug. 28 -- at Fairbanks

Aug. 30 -- at Fisher Catholic

Sept. 4 -- vs. Whetstone

Sept. 6 -- vs. Wellington

Sept. 11 -- at Groveport

*Sept. 13 -- Watterson at Otterbein

Sept. 17 -- vs. Bloom-Carroll

Sept. 25 -- at West Jefferson

*Sept. 27 -- vs. DeSales

Sept. 29 -- vs. Grandview

Oct. 2 -- vs. Cristo Rey

*Oct. 4 -- at Ready

*Oct. 6 -- vs. Hartley

Oct. 8 -- at Zanesville Rosecrans

Oct. 10 -- at Columbus Academy

VOLLEYBALL

Aug. 23 -- at Bloom-Carroll

Aug. 27 -- vs. Bexley

*Aug. 28 -- at DeSales

Aug. 30 -- at Newark Catholic

*Sept. 4 -- vs. Watterson

*Sept. 6 -- vs. Ready

*Sept. 11 -- vs. Hartley

*Sept. 13 -- vs. DeSales

Sept. 15 -- at Columbus Academy with Northridge

Sept. 17 -- vs. Millersport

*Sept. 25 -- at Ready

*Sept. 27 -- at Hartley

Sept. 29 -- at Grandview

Oct. 1 -- at Granville Christian

*Oct. 2 -- at Watterson

Oct. 4 -- at Worthington Christian

Oct. 8 -- vs. Whitehall

Oct. 10 -- vs. Westerville South

Oct. 11 -- at Patriot Prep

*League contest

Below are the coming schedules for the Columbus School for Girls golf and tennis teams:

GOLF

Sept. 13 -- Olentangy Liberty at Scioto Reserve

Sept. 17 -- Hartley at Blacklick Woods

Sept. 18 -- MOGGL at Village View

TENNIS

Sept. 13 -- Home vs. Dublin Coffman

Sept. 17 -- Home vs. Bexley

*Sept. 18 -- Home vs. Ready

*League contest