In each of the past two seasons, the Thomas Worthington High School girls lacrosse team finished 17-4 overall and was a Division I regional finalist.
With only four returning starters, fourth-year coach Scott Hamilton will have to rely on several young, unproven players if the Cardinals are to match, or even surpass, that level of success this season.
"With such a young roster, our freshmen and sophomores will need to play a larger role than we normally would like," said Hamilton, whose team opens Tuesday, April 3, at Dublin Coffman and begins defense of its OCC-Cardinal Division championship April 5 at home against Delaware. "But I think that we'll see a lot of growth during the season and hopefully we'll jell at the right time."
The returning starters are senior midfielder Julia Geiger, junior midfielders Tori Banks and Rachel Rinaldi and junior defender Reilly Ford.
"Tori started all games the past two years and she was our third-leading scorer last season," Hamilton said. "Tori is fast, athletic and a really smart lacrosse player.
"Julia is an outstanding midfielder and is one of our captains. She is quick and smart. Rachel started at defense last season and will move to midfield. She is an outstanding defender and athlete and is a strong addition to Tori and Julia in the midfield."
Senior Paige Lampman is expected to play a large role on defense. Lampman, Ford, Rinaldi and junior defender Anneliese Sinclair all played key roles on the field hockey team last fall when it won its third consecutive state championship.
Also seeking playing time on defense are juniors Hayley Cesario and Madison Simeone, while junior Rosey Seech and sophomore Mackenzie Kneisly both will see time in goal.
"Our strength will be our defense," Hamilton said. "We have Paige Lampman returning after missing last season and that's a huge plus."
Expected to lead the attack are senior Elaine Miller, sophomore Abbey Midnight and freshman Mollie Estepp. Also looking to contribute to the attack are junior Sylvia Strange and freshmen Peyton Bowers and Vivian Strange.
Completing the roster and seeking action in the midfield are junior Meredith Gnezda, sophomores Megan Cooper and Lily Warner and freshmen Isabella Avila and Carmen Reis.
Thomas lost 10 players from a year ago to graduation after going 6-0 in the OCC-Cardinal to win the title ahead of runner-up Dublin Jerome (5-1).
Boys lacrosse team looking to improve
The boys lacrosse team is looking to make strides this season under first-year coach John Haldeman after finishing 3-16 overall a year ago.
The Cardinals opened March 16 with an 18-3 loss to St. Charles and fell to 0-2 with a 13-0 loss to Upper Arlington on March 23. A game against Watterson on March 21 was postponed.
Thomas opens OCC-Cardinal play April 5 at Delaware after going 3-3 and placing fourth in the league last season behind champion Jerome (6-0).
"The team is focused on improving every day," said Haldeman, who replaced two-year coach Derek Lichtfuss. "We have a strong set of seniors who are excellent leaders as they have been through three coaching changes. The seniors and staff are focused on relentless effort and competitive excellence."
Thomas has 12 seniors, including midfielders Dekaider Jackson and Taylor Weinsz, attacker Max Nordquist and defender John Kallas.
"Our big three this year are Taylor, Max and Dekaider," Haldeman said. "All three are extremely hard workers, but their skill sets are very different. Dekaider and Max use their speed and ability to run by defenders on the way to the cage. Taylor will methodically get to a position to score."
Nordquist will get help on the attack from seniors Tim Berridge and Troy Hootman. Kallas is expected to work alongside senior Parker Jones on defense, in front of sophomore goalkeeper Owen Kehl.
The Cardinals will continue to tweak their lineup to find combinations that work.
Seeking playing time in the midfield are senior Kyle Coburn, juniors Nate Endicott, Bennett Fischbach, Tanner Hunt and Ryan Willis and sophomores Jude Coe, Nick McCarthy and Cole Stiver.
Vying for time in the attack are seniors Louis Dykstra, Jake Savage and Nick Schriner, junior Zach Schonhiutt and sophomore Dean Orloff, while seeking action on defense are senior Jack Knotts, junior Kemauni Payton and freshman Eli Short. Freshman Owen Appel is the backup goalie.
"Our focus is to achieve greater success by increasing our lacrosse IQ," Haldeman said. "This is a completely new coaching scheme both on offense and defense for all of the players. As we grow more comfortable, we will continue to see increased success."
March 16 -- at St. Charles
March 21 -- vs. Watterson
March 23 -- at Upper Arlington
March 29 -- at Bethel Park (Pa.)
March 31 -- at McMurray (Pa.) Peters Township
April 3 -- at Westerville Central
*April 5 -- at Delaware
*April 9 -- vs. Hilliard Bradley
*April 12 -- vs. Dublin Jerome
*April 17 -- at Dublin Scioto
April 20 -- vs. Olentangy
*April 26 -- at Hilliard Darby
*May 1 -- vs. Kilbourne
May 4 -- vs. Westerville North
May 8 -- vs. Hilliard Davidson
April 3 -- at Dublin Coffman
*April 5 -- vs. Delaware
April 7 -- at Cincinnati Sycamore
*April 10 -- at Hilliard Bradley
*April 12 -- at Dublin Jerome
April 14 -- vs. Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame
*April 18 -- vs. Dublin Scioto
April 20 -- Oak Park (Ill.) River Forest in Hannigan-Galipault Tournament at home
April 21 -- Pittsburgh Shady Side Academy in Hannigan-Galipault
April 23 -- vs. Olentangy
*April 26 -- vs. Hilliard Darby
April 28 -- vs. Cleveland Heights and Massillon Jackson
*April 30 -- at Kilbourne
May 3 -- at Olentangy Liberty
May 5 -- at Mason
May 8 -- at Watterson
May 12 -- vs. Loveland
Below are the coming schedules for the Thomas baseball, softball, boys tennis, track & field and boys volleyball teams:
March 31 -- At Lakewood with New Concord John Glenn
*April 2 -- Home vs. Hilliard Bradley
*April 4 -- At Bradley
March 29 -- At Buckeye Valley
March 30 -- At Westland
*April 2 -- Home vs. Bradley
*April 4 -- At Dublin Jerome
April 2 -- Home vs. Wellington
*April 3 -- Home vs. Jerome
TRACK & FIELD
March 31 -- Newark Invitational
*March 29 -- Home vs. Bradley
*April 3 -- At Jerome
April 4 -- Home vs. Briggs