Field Hockey: Thomas Worthington seeks sixth straight state berth

STEPHEN BORGNA
sborgna@thisweeknews.com
Cora Hamilton of Thomas surveys the field during a 9-0 win over Olentangy Berlin on Sept. 2. Hamilton, a junior defender who was first-team all-state last season, is among the key returnees for the Cardinals.

A year removed from a fifth consecutive appearance in the state tournament, the Thomas Worthington field hockey team is looking to take the next step.

But after losing 2-0 to Shaker Heights in a state semifinal, coach Terri Simonetti Frost said the Cardinals also are taking things one game at a time as the season unfolds.

"Your expectations are: 'This is the same team and you made it to the final four. You should continue making those goals,' " said Simonetti Frost, who is in her 22nd season and led the Cardinals to three consecutive state titles from 2015-17. "But at the same time, you're just trying to keep it in perspective and appreciate and be grateful for even having a game tonight."

After finishing 16-2-2 overall and winning the COFHL-West Division title at 8-0, Simonetti Frost said the Cardinals are led by seniors Mollie Estepp and Bella Avila and junior Cora Hamilton, all of whom received first-team all-league and all-state honors a year ago.

Estepp anchors the midfield along with senior Zoe Peveler and sophomore Tate Beegle.

"Mollie has excellent vision of the field and distributes the ball well to her teammates," Simonetti Frost said. "Her stickwork is phenomenal and she beats players one on one because she keeps the ball tight on her stick. She's also very patient defensively but aggressive, too. She's a strong leader."

Avila is an attacker who leads a front line featuring sophomore Cate Isaacson and a rotation of junior Leila Boussedra and sophomore Campbell Bowers.

"Bella is a fast, quick player and when she turns it on, look out," Simonetti Frost said. "She has an excellent shot and is determined to put the ball in the cage by being aggressive. She's a strong leader and someone who can make a difference on this team, both offensively and defensively, with her natural athletic ability and her fundamental skills."

Hamilton leads a defensive group that also includes senior Carmen Reis, juniors Ellie Conroy and Emily Kendall and senior goalie Scarlett Oaks.

"Cora's explosive speed coming out of the backfield is dominant," Simonetti Frost said. "She's aggressive and thrives on making defensive interceptions. She's an excellent communicator and determined to be a leader in the back field to help her teammates out both offensively and defensively."

The Cardinals beat Watterson 1-0 on Sept. 11 in a matchup of unbeaten teams to improve to 6-0. Watterson had outscored its first six opponents by a combined 29-3.

Thomas also defeated Dublin Coffman (9-0 on Aug. 26), Dublin Jerome (8-0 on Aug. 31), Olentangy Berlin (9-0 on Sept. 2), Kilbourne (4-0 on Sept. 4) and Olentangy Orange (3-0 on Sept. 9).

Kilbourne aims for postseason run

Kilbourne returns 11 seniors and lost just one starter from a year ago, raising hopes of making a postseason run this fall.

Sixth-year coach Alexandra Street said the Wolves have set a goal of winning a district title and reaching the state tournament.

"I think where we're headed is in a great direction," she said. "Our girls have a lot of field hockey knowledge, and then just trying to get all of that into one place and being able to put it back onto the field is what we're working on. And learning tactics instead of just being told what to do is something we're trying to work on and continue.

"With our 11 seniors and our juniors pushing them from behind as well, I think if we stay on track that can be an achievable goal this fall."

The Wolves' top players include senior midfielders Nicole Miller and Claire Ogden and senior defenders Blaire Andrews and Olivia Barrie.

Miller and Ogden lead the midfield, where senior Erika McCague also is a key contributor.

Andrews and Barrie anchor the backfield and are joined by juniors Olivia James and Anais Sturges, sophomore Brynley Rung and senior Eva Leftridge at goalie.

Street said the Wolves have been rotating six forwards, with juniors Grace Fronczak and Brynlee Pinschenat among those seeing significant playing time. Junior Lauren Scott returned Sept. 9 after recovering from an ankle injury.

Scott led the Wolves in scoring last year with 14 goals, and Fronczak scored eight as the Wolves finished 8-8-1.

Kilbourne opened with a 3-0 victory over Coffman on Aug. 24 and began COFHL-East play with a 1-0 loss to New Albany on Aug. 26.

After falling 4-0 to Thomas on Sept. 4, the Wolves defeated Hartley 6-0 on Sept. 9.

sborgna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSteve

At a glance

WORTHINGTON KILBOURNE

*Coach: Alexandra Street, sixth season

*Top players: Blair Andrews, Olivia Barrie, Nicole Miller and Claire Ogden

*Key loss: Meagan Rosenfeld

*Last season: 8-8-1 overall

*2019 COFHL-East standings: Columbus Academy (8-0), Watterson (7-1), New Albany (6-2), Kilbourne (5-3), Granville (3-5), Hartley (2-6), Bexley (1-5-2), Columbus School for Girls and Lancaster (1-6-1)

*2019 postseason: Lost to New Albany 3-1 in second round of district tournament

THOMAS WORTHINGTON

*Coach: Terri Simonetti Frost, 22nd season

*Top players: Bella Avila, Mollie Estepp and Cora Hamilton

*Key losses: None

*Last season: 16-2-2 overall

*2019 COFHL-West standings: Thomas (8-0), Olentangy Liberty and Olentangy Orange (6-2), Upper Arlington (5-2-1), Olentangy (3-3-2), Jerome (3-4-1), Dublomn Coffman (2-6), Dublin Scioto (1-7), Olentangy Berlin (0-8)

*2019 postseason: Defeated Scioto 9-0; def, Jerome 8-0; def. Watterson 2-1; lost to Shaker Heights 2-0 in state semifinal