When defender Shannon Latsko of the Dublin Jerome High School girls soccer team roamed into offensive territory and kicked a shot on goal during a game Sept. 17 against Olentangy, she had flashbacks of her days in the Dublin Youth Association.

When defender Shannon Latsko of the Dublin Jerome High School girls soccer team roamed into offensive territory and kicked a shot on goal during a game Sept. 17 against Olentangy, she had flashbacks of her days in the Dublin Youth Association.

After being ribbed by coach Annie Murphy Gage for her unlikely offensive prowess, Latsko quickly returned to her customary right back defensive position as she helped the Celtics post a 3-0 victory.

"Coach has been joking with me because I used to play forward when I was little, but I don't anymore," Latsko said. "She thinks it's funny because I'm not very good at being a forward, but I keep trying to take shots."

Along with fellow defensive players Kelly Brothers and Olivia Warzycha, Latsko has helped freshman keeper Megan O'Donnell make a smooth transition to a starting role. O'Donnell and the defense allowed 10 goals in the first 10 games -- including five shutouts.

"There's a sense of that I have to get the job done, but I feel like I have so much confidence in (O'Donnell) already that just helps a lot," Latsko said. "We put a lot into each other's hands as a team, so I trust her."

Latsko started playing when she was 5, as a forward. She began played club soccer at age 10 in the Ohio Premier Program in Dublin before joining the Upper Arlington Eagles Soccer Club, where she is a member of the 18-and-younger team. Latsko is the Eagles' starting center midfielder.

"It started becoming more serious when I got into club with Ohio Premier and then I realized that there were some good tournaments out there and the competition started picking up, and it just became more fun," Latsko said.

"I just started falling in love with the game more."

When Latsko joined the Jerome varsity as a sophomore, Murphy Gage moved her to the crucial defensive position.

"I like defense a lot more because I just feel like I can be so much more in control of the field and I can see things better," Latsko said. "I have a better conception of the entire game, whereas in the middle it's a whole entire different control of the game."

"She's a pretty smart player in terms of she's really able to read the game and she tackles hard and she's got some good pace to her," Murphy Gage said. "She has all the qualities that make the type of defender that we look to have in our program."

Last year, Latsko earned second-team all-OCC-Cardinal Division, helping the Celtics post a 13-3-1 record and earn their third consecutive OCC title.

She credited Murphy Gage for her success.

"She's been so much more than just a coach. She's been a friend," Latsko said. "She's like a role model to me. She's been through so much adversity. I just really admire her for what she's done and I can look up to her. I can text her or call her if I ever need anything more outside of soccer."

Latsko doesn't think she will continue her soccer career at the college level. She hopes to attend Cincinnati, Clemson or South Carolina, where she would like to pursue an education degree.

"I'd like to go to a Spanish-speaking country and teach kids English there," she said.

Jerome hopes to earn another league title and enjoy success in the postseason.

"We're heading in the right direction," Murphy Gage said. "Unfortunately with high school kids you never really know how consistent they're going to be. Assuming that they keep their heads on straight and continue to do the little things that we've focused on in the past two weeks, it's a good possibility that we will have success."