The final game of the Gahanna Lincoln High School boys soccer team's season came down to opportunities.
Playing in the Division I regional tournament for the third time in four seasons, the Lions used an own goal by Dublin Coffman to force overtime before falling 2-1 in a semifinal Oct. 31 at Westerville Central. Coffman scored the winner with 4 minutes, 53 seconds left in the first overtime.
Gahanna, which finished 15-2-3 overall, had played the Shamrocks to a scoreless tie Sept. 29.
"At this point in the season it comes down to making plays at the end," coach Todd Keenan said. "We scouted them well and had a good game plan, but the credit goes to (the Shamrocks) because they limited our chances and defended our guys well. I've got a lot of respect for (Coffman) coach (Steve) Watts."
Gahanna had a goal disallowed in the first half because of an offsides call. Then with 37:04 left in the second half, senior Andrew Schwall had a shot on a breakaway that missed just right of the goal.
Coffman's Ryan Prescott scored with 19:59 to go in the second half for a 1-0 lead, but Schwall kicked one toward the goal that went off a Shamrocks defender and into the net with 17:49 left to tie it.
Gahanna, which also had a shot go off the post with 12:40 left in the second half, was a district runner-up a year ago and entered this season with several players taking on key roles for the first time.
Schwall, who had 19 goals and four assists a year ago, became one of central Ohio's top finishers as he had 30 goals and six assists. He also set a program record when he scored seven goals in a 10-0 win over Columbus West on Oct. 20 in the second round of the district tournament.
Senior Caleb Gruenbaum emerged as a distributor, finishing with a program-record 21 assists to go along with four goals.
Gruenbaum did not play last season because of a back injury and wasn't cleared to play until mid-July.
Other senior starters included Joe Chandler (defender), Evren Gokcen (midfielder), Bryan Kromer (defender) and Jacob Reventlow (midfielder).
Schwall was the OCC-Ohio Division's Player of the Year, and Kromer and Gruenbaum also were first-team all-league.
"I'm really proud of my seniors," Keenan said. "(Since the time) we got together in August, the improvement they've shown has been amazing."
Gahanna went 7-0 in the OCC-Ohio to win at least a share of its ninth consecutive league title. The Lions were followed by Pickerington Central (4-1-2), Pickerington North (4-2-1), Lancaster (3-1-3), Grove City (3-3-1), Groveport (2-5), Reynoldsburg (1-5-1) and Newark (0-7).
After beating West, the Lions defeated Canal Winchester (5-0 on Oct. 24) and Hilliard Darby (2-0 on Oct. 27) to capture a district title.
Juniors Christian Grimme (goalkeeper), Jacob Johnson (midfielder), Jaden Lunger (midfielder) and Hayden Pfeifer (defender) and freshman Chad Barrick (midfielder) all were starters.
Barrick had six goals and three assists.
Grimme, Johnson and Lunger were second-team all-league.
Volleyball squad to lose 7 seniors, coach
The girls volleyball team will have a new look next year.
Kelly Shannon, a middle hitter who will play for Clarion University, was a first-team all-district selection in Division I and a first-team all-league choice who led the senior class.
Also leaving is coach Scot Holmes, who guided the Lions to district runner-up finishes in 2008 and this year but is stepping down after six seasons.
Holmes coaches at the club level and also is hoping to be more involved in volleyball officiating.
"The seniors were a phenomenal group of girls," he said. "Their goal was to change the program and put heart into the program, and they absolutely did that."
The Lions placed second (11-3) in the OCC-Ohio behind Pickerington North (14-0) and ahead of Newark and Grove City (both 9-5), Lancaster (7-7), Pickerington Central (4-10), Groveport (2-12) and Reynoldsburg (0-14). They were seeded sixth for the district tournament and opened the postseason by beating West 25-3, 25-8, 25-9 on Oct. 16, Watterson 25-20, 25-17, 14-25, 25-11 on Oct. 18 and Chillicothe 25-21, 25-12, 25-14 on Oct. 25.
The Lions lost to Westerville Central 25-18, 25-23, 25-20 on Oct. 27 at Big Walnut in a district final. Gahanna defeated the Warhawks 25-18, 25-17 on Aug. 25.
Other key seniors were Stacie Baumann, Beth Coccia and Becca Scowden. Baumann was second-team all-league and second-team all-district, Coccia made second-team all-league and Scowden was special mention all-league.
Holmes was the league's Coach of the Year.
Junior Kailyn McComb is expected to be the top returnee after making honorable mention all-league. Also eligible to return are juniors Amy Bott, Aleese Butler, Katy Noel, Laryn O'Donnell and Morgan Wrona.
"Every single one of my juniors is going to be phenomenal next year," Holmes said. "They got a chance to play with seven phenomenal (seniors)."
Cross country coaches happy with seasons
Both the boys and girls cross country teams should return nearly all of their key runners.
Sophomores Kelsey Sandlin, Rylee Tanner and Heather Kincaid and freshmen Kelsey Thompson and Kearstin Turner helped the girls team score 40 points to win its second consecutive OCC-Ohio championship Oct. 13 at Lancaster.
Gahanna then was third (95) in the 15-team Division I, district 2 meet Oct. 20 at Watkins Memorial and seventh (201) in the 16-team regional Oct. 27 at Pickerington North.
"Only one of our top seven (Katie Baker) was a senior," coach Ernie Ziegler said. "We were very young and I think this will only serve to make them more hungry for next year. This is by far the best season we've ever had."
The girls were followed in the league meet by Pickerington North (59), Pickerington Central (77), Lancaster (105), Reynoldsburg (143), Grove City (155) and Newark (163). Sandlin was fifth (20:13.1) in the league, and Tanner (20:17.3), Thompson (20:20.2) and Turner (20:27.8) took the next three spots. Kincaid, who battled injuries early this season, was Gahanna's fifth runner (21:25.8) in the league meet.
Sandlin led at district with a sixth-place finish (20:09.57). At regional, Tanner was 25th (19:59.13) and Sandlin placed 26th (19:59.33).
The boys were fourth (82) in the league meet behind Pickerington North (47), Lancaster (52) and Newark (53) and ahead of Pickerington Central (142), Reynoldsburg (164) and Grove City (196). Sophomore Matt Ridinger led by placing ninth (17:14.5), followed by senior Trent Champlin (14th, 17:29.1), freshman Aaron Schaller (16th, 17:30.3), sophomore Kieffer Whiteman (19th, 17:45) and junior Chris Blakely (29th, 17:54.8).
On Oct. 20, the Lions were fifth (149) of 18 teams in the district 3 meet behind champion Dublin Jerome (51). Champlin led with a 19th-place finish (17:20.98).
The boys were 12th (294) of 16 teams behind champion Westerville North (79) at regional, as Champlin was 43rd (17:07.02) followed by Schaller (49th, 17:12.22), Ridinger (50th, 17:12.44), Whiteman (89th, 17:43.48) and sophomore Ryan Leppert (98th, 17:50.9).
Coach Larry Schwade is retiring after leading the program for 25 seasons.
The Lions, according to Schwade, have been to 29 regional meets in his 35 seasons overall with the program.
"Young teams are up and down, and that's the way we were," Schwade said. "(Almost) the whole team is coming back and they finished the season with a good race."