David Fairchild is in only his second season as Thomas Worthington boys soccer coach, but he's already developed a yearly tradition.
When it comes time to make the following year's schedule, he asks the senior class, "What kind of schedule do you want to play?"
"We want the challenge," senior midfielder and captain Drew Holman said. "In order to be the best, you've got to beat the best. That's the attitude that we've been going with. We've just got to keep getting better and keep improving."
Thomas already has run a gauntlet of a schedule and the season is only at its halfway mark. The Cardinals beat Perrysburg 2-1 on Sept. 14 and were 2-5-2 overall and 1-2 in the OCC-Cardinal Division before playing Olentangy Berlin on Sept. 17.
Three of Thomas' losses have come against teams ranked in the top 15 of the Ohio Scholastic Soccer Coaches Association's Division I state poll released Sept. 9 in Olentangy Liberty (third), Whitehouse Anthony Wayne (tied for 10th) and Hilliard Bradley (14th).
The Cardinals close the regular season Oct. 8 at Kilbourne, which was ranked fifth.
Thomas lost to Liberty (Aug. 16) and Anthony Wayne (Aug. 31) both by a 3-0 score and fell to Bradley 1-0 in its league opener Aug. 27.
"We've played arguably the toughest schedule in Columbus and we've played everybody just about evenly for a half," Fairchild said. "We want to play the best of the best. Everybody makes the (district) tournament in high school soccer."
Thomas might just be turning the corner after an 0-4-2 start during which the Cardinals were shut out five times.
"It's just basically consistent play," Fairchild said. "It's that learning to win. So, games like (Perrysburg), where we can grind it out and get that result, is definitely putting us on the path."
Thomas entered the week having won two of its previous three games, including a 4-2 win over Delaware on Sept. 10.
"We're staying positive throughout even though we're not getting the results," Holman said. "We've got a close-knit team with a great vibe."
Eli Hitzhusen and Cameron McIntosh scored against Perrysburg and goalkeeper Ry Conley had four saves, upping his season total to 60.
Through nine games, McIntosh and Landon Chase were tied for the team lead in goals with two apiece.
Defense leading girls soccer team
Things are running a lot smoother in Jeff Sever's second year as girls soccer coach.
The Cardinals lost to Upper Arlington 2-0 on Sept. 12 but already have surpassed their win total from last season, when they finished 4-10-3. They've done it on the strength of their defense, which is led by goalie Brooke Ackley, who had 42 saves through nine games.
Freshmen Karlie Fidler and Eleanor DeMartini have made an instant impact on the back line, joining Ella Tyler, Tatum Snyder and Lyndsi Fritz.
Thomas, which outscored its first nine opponents 21-7, was 5-3-1 overall and 0-2-1 in the OCC-Cardinal before playing Berlin on Sept. 17.
"Our defense has been really solid," Sever said. "There's been games like Delaware Hayes (scoreless tie on Sept. 10) or Hartley (2-1 win on Aug. 22) where we just did not play well. The reason we got those results was because of our defense. It's been huge for us."
The Cardinals opened the season with three consecutive wins but went 2-3-1 in their next six.
"I think in order for us to take the next step -- to be a top 10 team in the Central District -- we've got to beat teams like Berlin, (Olentangy) Orange and (Dublin) Jerome," Sever said. "They've always been a little bit above us, so I think a key for us is to get a win against one of those teams."
Claire Sever has shouldered the scoring load for the Cardinals with 10 goals and two assists through nine games. Jazmine Rogers had three goals and Sophia Tyler had two goals and two assists.
Kaviyarasu leads boys golf team
The boys golf team shot a 362 in the fourth and final round of the OCC-Cardinal tournament Sept. 11 at Denison Golf Club to finish eighth behind first-place Jerome (299).
Paari Kaviyarasu led the Cardinals with an 83 and Noah Jackman carded an 86.
Thomas finished 4-24 in the overall league standings, seventh behind Jerome (27-1), Berlin (22-6), Bradley (20-8), Delaware (19-9), Hilliard Darby (11-17) and Kilbourne (8-20) and ahead of Dublin Scioto (1-27).
Kaviyarasu, who earned second-team all-league honors with a 78.25 average, had a run of six consecutive rounds under 80 snapped in the St. Charles Invitational on Sept. 7 at Brookside. He bounced back with a 77 in the Gdovin Memorial Invitational on Sept. 9 at Zanesville Country Club.
"He's been pretty solid pacing the way for us, (shooting) 73 to 78 most days," coach Jay Addy said. "Really, the key for him that he's trying to conquer to get to that next step is the mental aspect."
Jackman, who was second on the team with an 83.5 league average, shot an 81 in the St. Charles Invitational and an 89 in the Gdovin Memorial Invitational.
"Noah has a lot of potential. He's got rounds in the 70s this year," Addy said. "He's just working through his game and trying to get it more consistent and focus on that postseason part of the golf season."
Below are the coming schedules for the Thomas cross country, field hockey, boys golf, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis, girls volleyball and water polo teams:
Sept. 21 -- Saturday Night Lights at Centerville
Sept. 20 -- At Shaker Heights
Sept. 21 -- At Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown
Sept. 23 -- Home vs. Columbus Academy
*Sept. 25 -- Home vs. Olentangy
Sept. 21 -- Howlett Invitational at Worthington Hills
Sept. 23 -- OCC Shootout at Little Turtle
Sept. 19 -- Olentangy Orange at Blackhawk
Sept. 19 -- Home vs. DeSales
Sept. 21 -- At Lancaster
*Sept. 24 -- At Dublin Scioto
Sept. 21 -- At Olentangy Orange
*Sept. 24 -- Home vs. Dublin Scioto
Sept. 21 -- Kim Shepherd Doubles Classic at Hilliard Davidson
*Sept. 24 -- Home vs. Olentangy Berlin
Sept. 20-21 -- Boys: Packer Classic at Cincinnati Princeton