Led by a goalkeeper who coach Amanda DeFluiter believes is one of the best in the state, the Dublin Scioto High School girls lacrosse team hasn't lacked communication, particularly on defense.
The next step for the Irish, as they look to continue the improvement that saw them win seven more games a year ago than in 2011, might have to do with staying focused throughout every game.
"This is the strongest we've been as a team and we have so much chemistry," junior goalie Angela Lontoc said. "That's been a huge goal this year. The past couple years as a program we've been down, but we're playing hard. We just have to keep that intensity the whole game."
"We've struggled with tending to go out a little bit flat," DeFluiter said.
The Irish were 3-3-1 overall and 1-1 in the OCC-Ohio Division after beating Hilliard Davidson 14-9 on April 15 and before playing Jerome on April 17.
Last season, Scioto beat Davidson 18-10 and Jerome 10-8 en route to going 8-8-1.
During the Irish's first six games, they gave up an average of 8.6 goals and held four opponents under 10 goals.
In addition to Lontoc, senior Pamela Solano and freshman Amanda Best have been key players on defense, according to DeFluiter.
Freshman attacker Catherine Howard has been another early standout. Through four games, she had 14 goals, including four in a 9-7 win over visiting Pickerington Central on April 11.
The Irish led DeSales 6-3 on April 6 but lost 12-7. During a 14-8 loss to Olentangy Liberty on April 9, they trailed 11-3 at halftime but closed the gap during the second half.
"I feel like we're improving every game," DeFluiter said. "We're trying to figure out how to dig a little deeper. I was so pleased and so excited about the way we played (in the second half) after the Liberty game."
Coffman boys leaning on defense
With seniors Patrick Ruz (defender) and Michael Turbitt (goalie) leading its defense, the Coffman boys team got off to a hot start.
The Shamrocks were 5-1 overall and 0-1 in the OCC-Buckeye before playing Upper Arlington on April 17, with the only loss coming to Worthington Kilbourne 6-5 on April 11.
"Our defense has been having to carry us," coach Mark Forsythe said. "We're very young on offense. We've got three freshmen on the field and our defense is having to buy us some time. The offense has finally started to pick up some of the concepts and played a very good game against (Cincinnati) Indian Hill (in a 9-7 win April 6)."
Ruz saw action during his freshman and sophomore seasons before missing last season with a knee injury. Joining him in the back have been junior Quinn Armstrong (long-stick midfielder) and seniors Mark Guzik (defender) and Sawyer Mack (defender). Seniors Eric Schnese and Chandler Warren also have contributed defensively at midfielder.
Offensively, freshmen Jake Dodson (attacker), Ryan Boyle (midfielder) and Jack Holland (midfielder) all have seen regular action.
Sophomore Andrew Kraly (midfielder) is another young player who was contributing before being sidelined in early April with a shoulder injury.
"Patrick Ruz has come back this year and hasn't had any limitations," Forsythe said. "Armstrong has been playing great. We're not controlling the clock very well, but once our offense gets clicking we're going to be really good."
Jerome girls aim for smarter play
Jerome girls coach Colleen Bender expected her team to have ups and downs.
The Celtics' goal so far has been trying to figure out how to overcome some of the mental mistakes that come with a roster that features several freshmen and sophomores.
Jerome entered the week 2-4 overall and had been held to six goals or fewer in each of its last four games.
"I expected that we were going to have some challenges this year," Bender said. "We're trying to get our intensity at a consistent level. When we have the ball we're rushing things and not managing possessions. Once you make a poor choice with the ball, you have to minimize turnovers."
As expected, junior midfielder Maddy Easdale has been a standout, according to Bender, after starting last season.
Senior Maria Foglietti and juniors Tara Blake and Taylor Giles have led a defense that Bender believes also has been a strong point. Jerome opened with an 11-6 win over Wellington on April 2 and earned its second win April 13 when it beat Centerville 6-3 in the Hannigan-Galipault Tournament at Thomas Worthington.
"We're just trying to get the team to click on all cylinders," Bender said. "We won our first game, which was good for the girls because it was a good confidence booster. Our (next) three games we didn't play up to our potential.
"Maddy Easdale has really stepped up. Maria Foglietti, Tara Blake and Taylor have really stepped up on defense and played well together. I've also been impressed with the play of (sophomore attacker) Megan Tomlinson."