Dublin Jerome High School senior Matt Isele is most at home on the lacrosse field when he's one of the few players using a long stick, giving him the ability to be more aggressive on defense.
Giving that up last spring was made easier when the alternative would have meant less playing time for the Celtics boys team.
"I normally play close defense with a longer pole, but we were so stacked last year that the only way to play was to play with the shorter-stick defensive midfielders," Isele said. "It's not the most rewarding position, but it was a way to be on the field. When you've got the longer stick, you can throw a lot more checks and take the ball away easier. Our coaches have a philosophy that when you have a short stick you just can't get beat and just can't make any mistakes. You can do more with the longer stick."
Wes Faulkenberry, a 2012 graduate and Ohio State freshman, was one of 12 seniors a year ago and led the Celtics' defenders who played with a long stick.
One of seven juniors on varsity last year, Isele now is a captain and a leader for a defense that was giving up an average of just 4.5 goals during a 6-1 start.
The Celtics, who defeated Dublin Scioto 17-0 on April 17 but lost to Cincinnati Moeller 7-6 in two overtimes April 19, were 2-0 in the OCC-Buckeye Division before playing Worthington Kilbourne on April 24.
"A big positive has been Matt Isele," coach A.J. Auld said. "He's one of the better long-stick close defensemen in the state.
"Last year he was willing to do whatever he could to get out there on the field. His choice was to sit behind guys that were older or adapt his game. He did a great job and this year now that he's back at his natural position, he has that footwork that makes him a complete player."
Coffman girls 'coming together'
The Coffman girls team is back on track after losing three of its first four games.
Before playing New Albany on April 23, the Shamrocks were 4-3 overall and 0-1 in the OCC-Buckeye.
They followed an 11-7 league loss to Thomas Worthington on April 9 by beating Delaware (17-8 on April 11), Gates Mills Hawken (8-7 on April 13) and Gahanna (21-6 on April 18).
Coffman's game April 16 against Upper Arlington was postponed because of bad weather.
"The team is really coming together," coach Michael Murphy said.
"We have really worked on transitioning up the field and making that extra pass. It has been evident, too, especially in our game versus Hawken. Our first five goals were scored by different players. Our team is very unselfish and now that we are gaining confidence, we will be a tough matchup for teams."
Kelly Murphy (attacker) led with 18 goals and Kylie Kayser (attacker) had 17 goals through seven games.
Lexi Minnick (midfielder) scored 13 goals through four games before getting injured. Coach Murphy was hopeful of her return for the New Albany game.
"Sara Cassidy, Ally Philbin and Emma Workman have been causing havoc for other teams on the defensive end, causing turnovers with their ability to jump into the passing lanes," coach Murphy said. "(Another) bright spot has been Amanda Freutel at midfielder ... and the play of our bench."
Scioto boys win, remember Colello
On April 12, the Scioto boys team celebrated its home opener by beating Columbus Academy 10-7 for its first victory.
The Irish also held a ceremony in which they gave a framed jersey to the family of former player Kyle Colello, who was a senior when he died in a car crash in November 2009.
According to first-year coach Drew Sraver, each year Scioto will select one player to wear No. 26 in honor of Colello.
This year, it's senior midfielder Jeremy Love.
"We had a remembrance for Kyle Colello before the game and had a lot of members of the 2010 team here," Sraver said.
"All of the guys were jacked up. There were a lot of people from the community here and it was a great atmosphere. It wasn't the warmest night, but the atmosphere was very good. We kept our composure and did a nice job possessing the ball."
The Irish were 1-6 before playing April 24 at Cincinnati St. Xavier.
Scioto, which scored 15 goals in its first six losses, got five goals from freshman Wills Hutras (midfielder) against Academy.
Junior Jackson Heigel (midfielder) has been another standout, according to Sraver.
"As of right now we've had some ups and some downs, but generally the effort has been good," Sraver said.
"We're seeing them come together like a family, and that's good. Our message in practice is that they've got to play together."