The Thomas Worthington girls soccer team is seeking balanced scoring and control through the midfield this season as its young defense tries to come of age.
"We just need some time to get used to playing together," second-year coach Jeff Sever said. "Since we are a little inexperienced on the defensive side of the field, we are looking to play a more team defensive system. Having an experienced midfield has already helped that process in the preseason and we are looking to continue to improve every day.
"We will need to score a few more goals than last season and we are looking to do that collectively. If we can get balanced scoring out of our group of midfielders and forwards, we should be competitive."
Behind the young defense is senior goalkeeper Brooke Ackley, who made 123 saves last season and was named first-team all-league as Thomas finished 4-10-3 overall and 3-3-1 in the OCC-Cardinal Division.
"We will once again look to Brooke to lead us," said Sever, whose team opened Aug. 17 with a 4-0 win over Watterson and begins league play Tuesday, Aug. 27, at Hilliard Bradley. "She has been among the leaders in central Ohio in saves over the past two seasons and has kept us in a lot of games."
Offensively, senior Sophia Tyler (midfielder) and juniors Peyton Hughes (midfielder), Jazmine Rogers (midfielder) and Claire Sever (midfielder/forward) are returning starters. They will be joined in the midfield by juniors Grace Florence and Lily Houser, and senior Michayla Gussler is expected to start at forward.
Sever was the team's second-leading scorer last season with three goals and seven assists.
"We have our top midfielders back with a lot of varsity experience in Claire Sever, Sophia Tyler and Jazmine Rogers," coach Sever said. "Grace Florence and Lily Houser will look to contribute in the midfield as well."
On defense, juniors Tatum Snyder and Ella Tyler are returning starters. They will be joined in the back by freshman Eleanor DeMartini and either senior Mei Yan Thornton or junior Lyndsi Fritz to begin the season.
Also seeking playing time are seniors Megan Cooper (midfielder) and Lily Warner (forward), junior Leilani Jimenez (midfielder) and freshmen Eleanor DeMartini (defender) and Karlie Fidler (midfielder/forward).
"We have a nice corps of returning players that have played together in our system and know how and what to expect this season," coach Sever said. "We have been able to fill in key roles lost to graduation last year.
"We will be looking to the upperclassmen to help us take a step forward. We had a lot of growing pains last year and also showed some signs of improvement, but are really looking to take a big step forward now."
Boys soccer team seeking better start
The boys soccer team is looking to get off to a better start this season under second-year coach David Fairchild.
Last season, the Cardinals started 0-7-1 before finding their footing and going 6-4-1 in their final 11 games to finish 6-11-2 overall. However, they lost 14 players from a year ago to graduation.
"We're optimistic about this season because I've had a full year to work with these boys," Fairchild said. "I only had sixth months with them (before the season) last year and everyone's on the same page this year, so that opens windows of opportunities."
Returnees include seniors Jeff Beck (midfielder), Jason Burghart (midfielder), Landon Chase (forward/midfielder), Owen Graham (defender), Drew Holman (midfielder) and Sekria Mohomed (defender) and juniors Rye Conley (goalie), Caleb Opoku (midfielder/forward) and Graham Werbovetz (midfielder).
Newcomers are seniors Kevin Burghart (defender), Jonathan Fierres Valdivia (midfielder), Luke Lasekan (midfielder) and Gustavo Machado (defender), juniors Miles Demko (defender), Omar Mares (midfielder), Cameron McIntosh (defender/midfielder) and Divine Ubani (defender), sophomores Matias Barinas (forward) and Erik Britz (midfielder) and freshman Eli Hitzhusen (forward).
McIntosh played for Crew SC Academy last fall.
Thomas opened Aug. 16 with a 3-0 loss to Olentangy Liberty and begins OCC-Cardinal play Tuesday, Aug. 27, at home against Bradley. The Cardinals went 3-3-1 in the league last season.
"Liberty is loaded and at halftime the game was scoreless," Fairchild said. "What I like about our kids is the commitment they put in during the offseason. Our summer turnout was amazing. Last year we'd have maybe eight guys attending and this year we'd have at least 35 guys showing up. Although we're younger and less experienced, the boys are buying in."
Below are the coming schedules for the Thomas boys golf, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis, girls volleyball and water polo teams:
Aug. 26 -- Bob Pritchard Memorial Invitational at Moundbuilders
Aug. 28 -- OCC-Cardinal at Darby Creek
Aug. 22 -- Delaware at Rolling Meadows
Aug. 28 -- OCC-Cardinal (JV) at Clover Valley
Aug. 22 -- At Pickerington North
Aug. 24 -- Home vs. Westerville Central
*Aug. 27 -- Home vs. Hilliard Bradley
Aug. 22 -- Home vs. Hartley
*Aug. 27 -- At Hilliard Bradley
*Aug. 22 -- Home vs. Delaware
*Aug. 27 -- At Olentangy Berlin
Aug. 28 -- At Upper Arlington
*Aug. 27 -- Home vs. Delaware
Aug. 23-24 -- Boys: At Mason Invitational; Girls: At Cincinnati Princeton Invitational