It took nearly three years for senior Megan Insley to fully grasp her role on the Thomas Worthington High School girls soccer team's defense.

It took nearly three years for senior Megan Insley to fully grasp her role on the Thomas Worthington High School girls soccer team's defense.

But just as Insley started to feel comfortable in her role, coach Tim Barton decided to move her to center midfield.

"I was kind of surprised at first," Insley said of the move. "I haven't played as a center midfielder since middle school, but it's exciting to be a part of the offense. You have to get used to a new style of play. When I was on defense, I wasn't dribble up the field as much. Now I have more opportunity to take people on offensively, shoot and score."

Barton said Insley has provided a much-needed punch to Thomas' offense. The Cardinals scored just five goals in their first six games, but scored 14 in their next four, although the bulk of those goals came in a 9-0 win over Westland on Sept. 20.

"At the beginning of the season, we had been struggling offensively a little bit," said Barton, whose team was 5-2-3 overall and 1-1-2 in the OCC-Central Division before playing Hilliard Darby on Sept. 27. "It's more of a mindset thing than it is anything. You have to get the girls used to a more attacking style of soccer.

"Now we're getting more scoring opportunities. Hopefully, it's going to improve and take a little pressure off the defensive side of the ball."

Barton anticipated his team would come around quicker defensively than offensively. Thomas lost only three players from a year ago to graduation, but all three played a role on offense. Rebecca Sheldon, who had 10 goals and six assists and had been the team's leading scorer the past three years, was among the graduates.

Senior forward Kendall Kwiatkowski and senior midfielder Kim Hoerauf had four goals apiece through 10 games.

Barton hopes that moving Insley to the midfield will continue to boost the offense.

"We've been much more productive offensively since we made that move," Barton said. "She possesses tremendous foot skills and has kind of slid into that role."

Insley grew up playing midfield and when she first joined the Cardinals her freshman year, she anticipated playing on the offensive end.

"At first, I was uneasy about playing defense, but I really started to take a liking to defense," she said. "I liked being the last thing that stands between the shooter and the goal. It's a big responsibility."

Despite playing defense, Insley was one of the team's top scorers last season with seven goals and five assists. Most of her goals came off free kicks.

"My left leg is pretty strong," she said. "I'm one of the only left-legged kickers on the team. It gives the goalies a harder challenge to deal with."

Thomas recently has completed a stretch during which it faced several of the top teams in the area. Ranked ninth in the Division I area coaches poll last week, the Cardinals played sixth-ranked Westerville North to a scoreless tie on Sept. 22 after losing to No. 1 Dublin Coffman 2-0 on Sept. 13 and No. 2 Dublin Jerome 3-0 on Sept. 1 and tying Hilliard Davidson at 1 on Sept. 6.

"We have the hardest part of our season behind us," Insley said. "As the schedule gets easier, we're picking up speed. When we were playing the harder teams, the ball was in the defensive part of the field most of the time. Now that the schedule has lightened up a little bit, we're going to be getting a few more opportunities to put it in the back of the net."