The Dublin Coffman High School boys soccer team's formula for success in the Division I district tournament was effective if not pretty.
In all three of their victories, the Shamrocks scored one goal and used a suffocating style of defense to hold on for the victory.
But after the seventh-seeded Shamrocks beat third-seeded Olentangy Liberty 1-0 in a final Saturday at Grove City Christian, coach Marc D'Auteuil said his team was more concerned with winning its second consecutive district title than earning style points.
Coffman improved to 12-4-3 and advanced to Tuesday's regional semifinal final to face Dublin Jerome or Westerville Central. Liberty finished 13-4-2.
"We're winning games with our defense, no bones about it," D'Auteuil said. "That's as good a team offensively as we've seen all year, but our defense really came through for us. This isn't the prettiest soccer, but our kids work as hard as anyone else out there."
The Shamrocks scored off a corner kick 12 minutes, 8 seconds into the game. Michael Vieth served the ball into the box, where Tomas Guerrero headed it forward to Carl Ruff, who scored.
"Somebody got a head on it and the ball came right to me," Ruff said. "I was able to turn and hit it with my right foot before their goalkeeper (Joe Kon) could react."
The Patriots had five shots in the first half, but Faraz Sihabdeen was there to make the save each time.
"A couple weeks ago, I didn't think Faraz was playing to his potential, so I challenged him a little bit and he's responded well to that challenge," D'Auteuil said.
Liberty's only scoring opportunity of the second half occurred with less than 18 minutes remaining. Alex Ottavio drilled a shot off the crossbar from 20 yards out, and Adam Mechling was stopped point blank by Sihabdeen on a rebound attempt.
"The kids played their hearts out and we had a few opportunities, but Dublin Coffman's defense is stingy," Liberty coach Josh Diehl said. "We got in their zone, but they always kept pressure on the ball and stayed organized."