The Worthington Kilbourne High School field hockey team is happy with the change in its defensive philosophy this season.
Defense became particularly important when one of the team's top offensive threats, Leighanne Jordan, was injured and missed seven games.
"We put a big focus on defense this year and changed some of our tactics," said coach Alexandra Street, whose team was 6-1-2 overall and 4-1 in the Central Ohio Field Hockey League-East Division before playing Watterson on Sept. 26. "Although we'd like for those two ties to have been wins, we're pretty happy with our season to this point, especially for not having (Jordan) for seven games."
The Wolves played Olentangy Orange to a scoreless tie on Sept. 15 and played Upper Arlington to a 2-all tie on Sept. 19. Their loss came against Columbus Academy, 6-0 on Aug. 29.
"Academy might be the team to beat this year and that was a strange game for us," Street said. "The game was scoreless through 15 minutes, but then we had a weather delay. When we came back, we were a different team. Maybe we'll see them somewhere in the (district) tournament."
Through nine games, the Wolves outscored their opponents 24-9 and posted six shutouts.
"We introduced something new on defense called forehand pressure," said defender Meredith Johnson, one of 11 seniors on the team. "We've learned how to support each other more in the back and things are going really well. We just need to keep it up. We have a lot of potential and we're having a great season, but our goal is to reach state."
Street said Johnson has helped lead the Wolves' defense and Arianna Garver has been strong in goal.
"Meredith has really been a standout on defense and is consistently playing some of the best games of her career," Street said. "Arianna is holding things down well in the back and is much improved this year. Her maturity, growth and knowledge of the game is so much better than past seasons."
Street also was impressed by the number of contributors in the midfield-forward rotation who helped the Wolves during the absence of Jordan, who returned to the field in a somewhat limited capacity against Upper Arlington.
In particular, Street noted the play of Grace Fronczak, Claire Ogden, Erika McCague and Nicole Miller.
Fronczak and Ogden scored in a 4-1 win over Gates Mills Hawken on Sept. 15 and Miller scored against UA.
Grace Burford scored both goals in a 2-0 win over Bexley on Sept. 17 and also scored against UA, while Alexa Burke scored twice against Hawken.
Garver had eight saves against Bexley and 10 against UA.
"Grace Karlock has played well in the midfield and is our vocal leader," Street said. "She has earned the trust and respect of her teammates. We're going well right now, but we need to push things a bit and be prepared to peak in the tournament. That's the goal."
Golfers preparing to tee off in sectional
The boys and girls golf teams will compete in Division I sectionals Tuesday, Oct. 2.
The boys are competing at Darby Creek, where the top four teams and top four individuals not on a qualifying team advance to the district tournament Oct. 9 at Apple Valley.
Last season, the Wolves finished ninth (343) in the Darby Creek sectional but John Catanzarite became a two-time individual district qualifier. He finished sixth at sectional with a 74 and shot a 77 at district to tie for 16th of 72 competitors.
This season, Catanzarite averaged 78.5 in the four-round OCC-Cardinal tournament to earn second-team all-league honors. In league rounds, he had a 79 at Darby Creek and an 81 at Apple Valley.
Also expected to compete at sectional are Evan Fisher, Isaac Henry, Garrett Meeks and Mark Towns.
The girls team will compete in a sectional at Mentel Memorial, where the top three teams and top three individuals not on a qualifying team advance to district Oct. 9 at Cooks Creek.
Trixie Abbott and Jenna Mains are expected to lead the Wolves after both earned third-team all-league honors in the four-round OCC-Cardinal tournament. Both averaged 98.3 in the league.
In league rounds, Abbott shot a 95 at Mentel Memorial and a 97 at Cooks Creek, while Mains carded a 96 at Mentel Memorial and a 104 at Cooks Creek.
Also expected to compete at sectional are Hannah Kramer and Cassidy Oyer.
Boys runners shine in Bob Reall Invite
Jack Begley and Tanner Williams both had top-five finishes to lead the boys cross country team to a runner-up finish in the 15-team Bob Reall Invitational on Sept. 22 at Lancaster.
Begley placed fourth of 104 runners in 16 minutes, 42.3 seconds and Williams was fourth (16:46.7), as the Wolves scored 69 points to finish behind the host Golden Gales (41). Also scoring for Kilbourne were Luke Miller (14th, 17:18.6), John Cuozzo (19th, 17:32) and Gabe Knuth (27th, 17:48.9).
The girls team finished ninth (238) of 16 teams in the Bob Reall Invitational, behind champion Lancaster (77).
Sasha Bomser placed 12th (20:13.9) of 133 runners to lead the Wolves, with Riley Tate (35th, 21:43.8), Sylvia Long (47th, 22:08.5), Marisa Long (75th, 22:42.8) and Madie Allen (79th, 22:49.5) also scoring.
Volleyball team eyes rematch with Irish
The girls volleyball team was 13-2 overall and 7-1 in the OCC-Cardinal before playing Hilliard Darby on Sept. 25.
Kilbourne continues its quest to defend its league championship Thursday, Sept. 27, at Hilliard Bradley before playing host to Dublin Scioto on Tuesday, Oct. 2.
The Irish handed the Wolves their lone loss in the first round of league play, rallying to beat Kilbourne 14-25, 21-25, 25-19, 26-24, 15-11 on Aug. 29.
Below are the coming schedules for the Kilbourne cross country, field hockey, boys golf, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis, girls volleyball and water polo teams:
Oct. 3 -- Darby Dash
Sept. 29 -- At Olentangy Liberty
Oct. 1 -- Home vs. Olentangy
Sept. 29 -- Pickerington Central Invitational at Turnberry
Oct. 2 -- Division I sectional at Darby Creek
Sept. 27 -- Dublin Scioto at The Ridge Golf & Gardens
Oct. 2 -- Division I sectional at Mentel Memorial
Sept. 27 -- Home vs. Upper Arlington
*Oct. 2 -- Home vs. Olentangy Berlin
Sept. 27 -- At Big Walnut
*Oct. 2 -- At Olentangy Berlin
Oct. 1 -- Home vs. Grandview
Oct. 2 -- At Mount Vernon
*Sept. 27 -- At Hilliard Bradley. The Wolves beat the Jaguars 25-18, 25-15, 25-20 on Aug. 28.
*Oct. 2 -- Home vs. Dublin Scioto. The Wolves lost to the Irish 14-25, 21-25, 25-19, 26-24, 15-11 on Aug. 29.
Sept. 29 -- Boys: Upper Arlington Invitational
Oct. 3 -- Boys: At St. Charles; Girls: Columbus Hawks at St. Charles