Coming off its second consecutive loss in the Division I state final, the Dublin Jerome High School boys lacrosse team should be hungrier than ever before.
At least, that's what junior defender Spencer Barco thinks when he looks ahead to next season.
"We're going to come back ready to go," Barco said. "We have a feeling of loss because we're talented, but we're going to get after it. No one expected it and I thought we played lights out in that game. We're obviously sad about it, but I was happy about (the season)."
After winning Division II state titles in 2010 and '11, the Celtics lost to Upper Arlington 7-6 in the Division I state final a year ago. They lost six regular-season games this season but made it back to the championship game, where they lost by the same score to the Golden Bears on June 8 at UA to finish 16-7 overall.
Coach A.J. Auld, whose team also lost to the Bears in the 2006 Division I state final, 9-6, agrees with Barco regarding his team's motivation heading into the offseason.
"Having now lost three times in the final in Division I, that one (June 8) was a game where we outplayed a team statistically in almost every facet but lost the game on that day," Auld said. "We bring a lot back, and I feel like if our guys put in the work, we'll have three-fourths of our close defense back and we'll have some firepower (offensively). I'm sure these guys will be hungry."
Jerome beat Scioto 17-0 on April 17 and Coffman 13-7 on May 15 to secure the Emerald Cup trophy in the series between the Dublin schools for the ninth consecutive season.
The Celtics went 4-2 in the OCC-Buckeye Division to place third behind UA (6-0) and Worthington Kilbourne (5-1) and ahead of Thomas Worthington (3-3), Coffman (2-4), Hilliard Davidson (1-5) and Scioto (0-6).
The top seed in the Northwest Region tournament, Jerome beat Whitehouse Anthony Wayne (16-2 on May 25), Sylvania Southview (15-5 on May 29), Olentangy (9-2 on June 1) and Cleveland St. Ignatius (6-3 on June 5) to reach the state final.
The Celtics also lost to the Bears in league play, 10-6 on April 30.
Jerome loses eight seniors, including Tanner Barco (attacker), James Eastep (midfielder), Matt Isele (defender), Austin Paalz (goalkeeper), Tommy Parizek (attacker), Luke Potter (midfielder) and Reston Randall (attacker).
Tanner Barco, who will play for Bellarmine University in Louisville, Ky., had 44 goals and 21 assists and was named honorable mention all-state. Parizek had 19 goals and 13 assists and Randall had 21 goals and 10 assists, and Paalz had a .552 save percentage.
Eastep and Isele both will play for Otterbein University.
Junior midfielder Mikey Bano led in scoring with 74 goals and 21 assists and had 69 groundballs and was first-team all-state. Junior attacker Shawn Ewert had 34 goals and 42 assists and was second-team all-state.
Junior defender J.B. Smith also was second-team all-state and had a team-high 86 groundballs and 31 forced turnovers.
Bano, Barco, Ewert and Smith were first-team all-region and junior defender Ian Beith was second-team all-region.
Spencer Barco, Smith and Beith, who was third on the team with 66 groundballs and was second in forced turnovers with 27, are expected to return to lead the defense, which allowed an average of 6.3 goals per game.
Junior defensive midfielder Lukas Brush also is eligible to return.
Sophomore Chris Haimbaugh gained experience this season at attacker and will be counted on to contribute offensively.
Junior goalie Chase Rose, who was Paalz' backup, already has committed to Robert Morris University. Bano (St. Joseph's), Ewert (Jacksonville) and Smith (Fairfield) also have made their college decisions.
"I thought the season ended up very well," Auld said.
"I felt like the whole season we were trying to put ourselves in position to make a playoff run, and I felt like our guys peaked at the right time."