Over the past two seasons, the Dublin Jerome High School boys lacrosse team has established that it's one of the state's top two programs -- at least when it comes to the postseason.
The Celtics will have to wait another year to ascend to the top of the group after losing to host Upper Arlington 7-6 in the Division I state final June 8.
It marked the second consecutive season Jerome lost by that score to the Golden Bears in the state final.
"We'd like to come out on the other side," coach A.J. Auld said. "You lose, you lose. We're not satisfied with being close. We're not satisfied with losing a one-goal game. Not many people in the crowd thought we were going to give Upper Arlington the type of game that we did, but we thought we were going to. I felt we did give them a really good game, and our guys expected to come out here and win.
"They're the ones who are winning the state championships. We're not on their level, but we're going to keep working hard to get there."
Jerome, which won the Division I-B state title in 2005 and Division II championships in 2010 and 2011 in seasons when it wasn't in the same division as UA, also lost to the Bears 10-6 in an OCC-Buckeye Division home game April 30.
In the rematch, senior attacker Tanner Barco gave the Celtics a 6-5 lead with 7 minutes, 49 seconds remaining on a shot to the left of UA senior goalkeeper Jack Warmolts.
Jerome then failed on an opportunity to go up by two goals about three minutes later, and the Bears capitalized by tying it with 4:38 left on a goal by senior attacker Zac Stowe off an assist from senior midfielder Grant Gould.
UA scored the winning goal with 2:03 left when junior attacker Cam Marsh picked up a loose ball near the goal and shot it past Jerome senior goalie Austin Paalz.
"We controlled possession for most of the game," Auld said. "We outshot them. We got more groundballs than them. I think that it was a very, very tight game, and at the end they made one more play than we did. We had an opportunity to go up two and it went off (Warmolts') helmet. ... That would have made a big difference to get a two-goal lead in the fourth quarter."
UA won its third state title in four seasons and 14th overall.
"The whole thing is a journey," Bears coach Ted Wolford said. "I give (Jerome) an awful lot of credit for going hard all the way and getting better. They prepped for this."
The game was tied at 3 at halftime, at 4 late in the third quarter and at 5 with 8:14 left on a goal by junior attacker Mikey Bano. Junior attacker Shawn Ewert and Bano each scored two goals for the Celtics, who finished 16-7.
UA finished 20-2.
In a state semifinal June 5 at the College of Wooster, Bano and sophomore midfielder Chris Haimbaugh both had two goals and Ewert added four assists as Jerome set up the matchup with UA by beating Cleveland St. Ignatius 6-3.
Jerome and St. Ignatius were tied at 2 at halftime. The Celtics took a 4-3 lead with 5:25 left in the third quarter on a goal by Haimbaugh off a pass from Ewert.
Haimbaugh and Bano each scored in the fourth quarter.
"I was most impressed with our defense," Auld said. "To only give up one goal in the second half of a state semifinal is a credit to our defense. Paalz made the saves we'd like him to make and our four starting poles, Matt Isele, J.B. Smith, Spencer Barco and Ian Beith, all had great games. Luke Potter is normally a two-way midfielder, but we felt we needed his size so we needed his defensive skills. He and Lukas Brush did a great job as midfielders on defense."