Faced with the same difficult decision as a year ago, Emeka Eneli chose a different path this summer.
Although Eneli knew the Dublin Coffman High School boys soccer team would be a Division I district title contender, he opted to remain with Crew SC Academy last season as he had the previous two years.
Eneli, with a college commitment to play for Cornell already wrapped up and knowing it was his last chance to play for his high school team, elected to try out for the Shamrocks' program this season.
"I was conflicted, especially last year and this year," Eneli said. "It's different from the club level, but I definitely like it. It's a new feel, but it's always a good challenge. It's my senior year, so I decided to play with some friends, and secondly, my college coach recommended it. He said it would be a good fit for the college level and thought it would prep me well for college."
The Shamrocks have benefitted from the addition of Eneli.
Coffman was 6-0 before playing Hilliard Davidson in its OCC-Central Division opener Sept. 12. The Shamrocks, who were ranked third in the first Division I state poll and fifth in the rankings released Sept. 11, play Thursday, Sept. 14, at Jerome in a boys-girls doubleheader.
Eneli had six goals through six games while seeing his most extensive time at center attacking midfielder, providing a complementary talent alongside one of the area's top players, senior forward and Georgetown-commit Luke Kiley.
Eneli, who lives in the same neighborhood as senior defender and Denison-commit Noah Paoletti and also is close friends with senior defender Jake Lister, is playing a similar role on the field as when he played for Crew SC Academy.
He's one of two impact senior newcomers for the Shamrocks, along with senior forward Andrew Heckaman, a move-in from Valdosta, Georgia.
According to Eneli, the Shamrocks have been a more "possession-based team" because of the number of technical players in the program after previously taking more of a counter-attacking approach.
"(Eneli's) an amazing player and creates a different dynamic," coach Brian Stoddard said. "He sees the field in a way that very, very few players in the game see the field. Good luck defending him. Everybody knows Luke, and with us having Emeka and Andrew come, we have a lot of weapons."
Eneli, who plans to major in business, has "always liked Ivy League schools" and heard positive things about Cornell from current Big Red and former Crew SC Academy player Kyle Walsh.
Originally from Lansing, Michigan, Eneli and his family moved to central Ohio about a decade ago.
His parents moved to the U.S. from Nigeria in the early 1990s. His mother, Ihuoma, and his father, Okey, both work for Nationwide Children's Hospital.
So far this fall, the Shamrocks have built an atmosphere that Eneli said feels "like we're all family."
"Ever since I was young, my parents said I always had a ball around me and was always kicking it around the house," he said. "I've always just stuck with (soccer).
"We've all come together, and (my teammates) make me feel welcomed even though it's my first year. It's taken a little bit of time, but it's definitely come together."
Tennis team places
second in league
The girls tennis team was 7-5 overall after losing to New Albany 3-2 on Sept. 11 and before playing Jerome on Sept. 12.
After winning the OCC-Central title last season, the Shamrocks lost 4-1 to Upper Arlington on Sept. 7 to finish runner-up in the league at 4-1 behind the Golden Bears (5-0).
"If we'd have played really, really well, we could have maybe taken them 3-2, but it would have been tough because they're solid," coach Brett Hundertpfund said. "I think we're doing really well. We definitely still have room to improve and I think that'll come, but we're pleased with the effort."
Coffman will play Pickerington North in the third round of the Ohio Tennis Coaches Association Division I district tournament at a date to be announced after beating Watkins Memorial 4-1 in a second-round match Aug. 30.
Against UA, freshman Lalasa Nagireddy (first singles) earned Coffman's only victory.
"She's been doing really well," Hundertpfund said.
Seniors Meredith Ainsworth and Darien Blackwell and sophomore Hannah Qin, all of whom were key players last season, have been other regular contributors.
Sophomore Claire Feit has been seeing extensive action at second singles.
Junior Alex Kapustin and sophomore Lena Caruso are other key players.
"The girls have been great, and it's been a fun season," Hundertpfund said.
Girls soccer team
takes step forward
Although nearly a month of the regular season remains, the girls soccer team had a chance to duplicate its win total from a year ago when it opened OCC-Central action Sept. 12 against Davidson.
Entering that game, the Shamrocks were 3-1-2 overall after finishing 4-6-8 last season.
After opening with a 3-all tie against Olentangy Liberty on Aug. 18, Coffman won its next three games before losing to Pickerington North 2-0 on Sept. 5 and playing Hilliard Darby to a scoreless tie Sept. 9.
Last season, Pickerington North was a Division I state semifinalist and Liberty was a Division I regional semifinalist. Darby was 4-0-2 before playing Scioto on Sept. 12.
Through six games for Coffman, sophomore Simone Rivard-Roberts had four goals and two assists, sophomore Emma Barthel had three goals and three assists, freshman Addie Vaccari had one goal and one assist, senior Gabby Burris had one goal and senior goalkeeper Izzie Vaccari had 12 saves.
Below are the coming schedules for the Coffman cross country, field hockey, boys golf, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Sept. 16 -- Otterbein Invitational
Sept. 18 -- Home vs. Olentangy Orange
Sept. 14 -- OCC-Central at Darby Creek
Sept. 16 -- Trojan Invitational at Findlay Country Club
Sept. 18 -- Generals Cup at Wooster Country Club
Sept. 14 -- Olentangy Liberty and Upper Arlington at Scioto Reserve
Sept. 16 -- Arrow Invitational at Highland Meadows
Sept. 19 -- Jonathan Alder and Marysville at Rolling Meadows
Sept. 14 -- At Jerome
Sept. 16 -- Home vs. Cincinnati St. Xavier
*Sept. 19 -- Home vs. Westland
Sept. 14 -- At Jerome
Sept. 18 -- At Watkins Memorial
*Sept. 19 -- At Westland
Sept. 16 -- Lexington Invitational
Sept. 18 -- Home vs. Pickerington North
Sept. 20 -- Home vs. Olentangy Liberty
*Sept. 14 -- At Central Crossing
Sept. 16 -- At Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame
*Sept. 19 -- Home vs. Upper Arlington