Keeping in mind how close it came to reaching a regional final a year ago, the Dublin Coffman High School girls lacrosse team spent much of its offseason focusing on what third-year coach Michael Murphy calls "the little things," such as footwork, communication and being in the right positions.
"I keep re-enforcing with the girls, 'We will make mistakes,'" he said. "However, what we do and how we react to the mistake is what will allow us to get to the next level."
The Shamrocks return seven seniors from a team that went 10-8 overall and lost to Thomas Worthington 13-12 in overtime in a Division I South/Central Region semifinal.
Leading those returnees is attacker Brianna Turner, who had 56 goals and 20 assists last season and has signed with Winthrop University. Another senior attacker, Steffi Zepp, has committed to Walsh University.
Junior Kelly Murphy, who had eight goals and 17 assists last season, and junior Kylie Kayser are others who should contribute at attacker.
Leading the midfielders is senior Lexi Minnick, who had 18 goals and eight assists a year ago.
She will be joined at the position by junior Jessica Kinzeler and sophomores Sarah Proctor and Riley Steiner. Kinzeler was a defender last season.
Senior Sara Cassidy and juniors Emma Workman, Emma Vander Stoep and Ally Philbin should lead the defense.
Juniors Annie Putnam and Sarah Watson both return after seeing action at goalkeeper last season.
Coffman opens April 4 at Westerville Central.
"I am in my third year as head coach, and 2013 will be a season to watch as we have a lot of experience and a nice mix of first-time varsity players," Murphy said. "We return 14 letterwinners and nine starters from a team that came within a goal of advancing to the regional final. In addition to our tough conference schedule, we added (Cincinnati) Ursuline (Academy), (Gates Mills) Hawken and Mason, all of which are highly ranked and respected programs."
Coffman went 1-4 in the OCC-Buckeye Division last season to place fifth behind Upper Arlington (5-0), New Albany (4-1), Worthington Kilbourne (3-2) and Thomas (2-3) and ahead of Hilliard Darby (0-5).
The Shamrocks beat Dublin Scioto 11-4 but lost to Dublin Jerome 17-16.
Coffman opened the postseason by beating West Chester Lakota West 12-10.
The Shamrocks lost six players from a year ago to graduation, including midfielder Claire Grace (40 goals, 22 assists).
Scioto looking for more improvement
After going 1-14-1 in 2011, Scioto went 8-8-1 last season under first-year coach Amanda DeFluiter.
A 12-member junior class has the Irish hoping they take another step forward. They open April 4 at Marysville.
"We're hopeful for the upcoming season," DeFluiter said. "We have a lot of juniors along with a lot of freshmen. We're working on building confidence in our positions since several players are in new spots. Overall, it's a younger team than last year. We're looking for new leadership and a team that works together. We would like to finish with at least a .500 season."
Back at attacker are senior Maggie Brannam and sophomore Abigail Smoot.
Senior Halle Lucas, juniors Cory Kinder and Abigail Moore and sophomore Cassie Lee are midfielders.
Senior Pamela Solano and juniors Jenna Best and Makenna Vargo are key returnees on defense.
Junior Angela Lontoc is back at goalkeeper.
Amanda Best and Catherine Howard are freshmen who DeFluiter hopes will contribute somewhere on the field.
Last season, Scioto was fifth (2-3) in the OCC-Ohio, behind Olentangy Liberty (6-0), Hilliard Bradley and Olentangy Orange (4-2) and Olentangy (3-2) and ahead of Jerome (1-5) and Hilliard Davidson (0-6).
Scioto opened the Division I South/Central Region tournament with an 18-10 win over Davidson but lost to Thomas 14-4 in the second round.
The Irish opened last season with an 11-4 loss to Coffman but later beat Jerome 10-8. They entered the postseason on a three-game winning streak.
Leading last year's four-member senior class were Gabby Bernardo (defender) and Killian Sheely (attacker).
"We have worked on improving stick skills and the fundamentals of the game," DeFluiter said. "We're still working on our field transition and trying to fill the spots left by last year's seniors."
Jerome to sport younger look
Jerome enters the season with less experience than a year ago after it lost 10 players to graduation.
The Celtics, who open Tuesday, April 2, at Wellington, have a trio of seniors to rebuild around in defenders Maria Foglietti and Lily Perin and goalkeeper Morgan Johnson.
Junior Maddy Easdale is a returning starter at midfielder who also could be looked to for leadership.
"We graduated 10 seniors, so our team is pretty young in varsity experience," said Colleen Bender, who is in her ninth season as coach. "I expect all of the returners and three seniors to be great leaders and role models for the younger girls. The unity of the team has been phenomenal. We are expecting all to give 110 percent in every game every time we have the ball and to be patient and smart on defense."
Juniors Tara Blake (defender) and Alex Petersen (midfielder) and sophomore Megan Tomlinson (attacker) should be other key players.
Rounding out the junior class are Taylor Giles (defender), Hayley Hannan (goalkeeper), Melissa Kura (defender), Christian McGregor (attacker), Carlee Richards (attacker), Sage Rucci (attacker), Stephanie Schiff (midfielder) and Kristina Windle (midfielder).
Freshmen Kailee King (midfielder), Claire Koontz (attacker) and Morgan Monaghan (defender) also are looking to contribute.
Although Jerome went just 4-13 a year ago, it beat Darby 16-12, lost to Orange 18-16 and edged Coffman 17-16 to close the regular season.
The Celtics then lost to Olentangy 20-9 in the second round of the Division II North/Central Region tournament.
Leading Jerome's senior class last year were Megan Couper (defender), Danielle El-Hallal (defender), Victoria Predmore (midfielder) and Emma Schnell (midfielder). Predmore is playing for the University of Findlay.
"The team is focused and excited to start the season," Bender said. "They've been working hard and are a very cohesive group. I have both my goalkeepers returning as well as midfielder Maddy Easdale who started in every game. Our defense is solid. I also expect a lot of contributions to be made by our three freshmen."