After allowing nearly 10 goals per game last season, fielding a stronger defensive unit is among the Dublin Coffman High School girls lacrosse team's biggest goals this spring.
The Shamrocks are coming off a season in which they finished 11-8 overall, went 4-2 in the OCC-Central Division to place third behind Upper Arlington (6-0) and Pickerington Central (5-1) and lost to Watterson 14-12 in a Division I, Region 3 quarterfinal.
Coffman lost to UA 14-1 and fell to Central 16-12 in their league matchups.
The Shamrocks opened March 20 with a 12-10 win over Granville and beat Hartley 13-9 on March 22. They begin league play April 5 at Hilliard Davidson.
"Our hopes are to contend for the OCC title and make a deep run into the tournament," said eighth-year coach Michael Murphy, who entered the season with a career record of 79-46. "A focus this year has been the defense and taking care of the ball. We had four first-year starters last year and this year we set a team goal to hold teams at six goals or less per game. We feel if our defense can do that, we can compete with any team. Adding to that is when we get that defensive stop, (we want to transition) the ball to our offensive end, taking care of the ball and not beating ourselves with unforced turnovers."
Senior Riley McGraw, juniors Carmen Haefke and Brooke Kappeler and freshman Abigail Elliott should lead a defense that also includes junior goalkeeper Starsen Kinzer.
Last season, McGraw was named first-team all-league and Haefke made the second team.
Freshman Kerstin Slother is the backup goalie and junior Brigid Phelps and sophomore Ashley Crotty should be other defensive contributors.
Senior midfielder Janelle Gans has returned after missing last season with an injury. She is joined in the midfield by seniors Annamarie Guth and Kylie Young, juniors Haley McDerment and Lexi Piekarski, sophomore Grace Kennedy and freshmen Amanda Bailey and Mary Proctor. Last season, Guth was second-team all-region and honorable mention all-league.
Piekarski has committed to Kent State after scoring 26 goals and making first-team all-region and second-team all-league.
Senior Megan Murphy, juniors Lea Crawford, Delaney Murray, Elizabeth Niemiec and Renae Tonon and freshman Addison Miller are among the team's attackers. Murray was first-team all-league and Murphy was honorable mention all-region.
Against Hartley, Guth had five goals and Murray scored four.
Last season, Guth and Murray each had 43 goals, Tonon scored 24 and Megan Murphy had 10.
Coffman lost just two players from a year ago to graduation in midfielder Elyse Gleeson and goalie Olivia Young. Gleeson was second-team all-league and is now playing for the University of Indianapolis.
"We have a good mix of all the positions and we've been working well together," Gans said.
Boys lacrosse team expects more success
The boys lacrosse team had one of central Ohio's top offensive units last season, averaging nearly 15 goals per game.
Nearly all of the top scorers are back for the Shamrocks, who are hoping to build on an 18-4 overall finish that included going 6-1 in the OCC-Central to share the league title with UA and Davidson.
Coffman defeated UA 16-12 in the regular season to snap a 22-game losing streak against the Golden Bears, but the Shamrocks lost to the Bears 12-11 in the Division I, Region 3 final.
Coffman opened March 24 by beating North Canton Hoover 16-9 and begin league play April 5 at home against Davidson.
"We bring back pretty much all of our offense," said second-year coach Shane Comisford, who was league Coach of the Year last season. "We lost all of our defense, so we're spending all of our time getting the defense shored up. We're hoping (the offense) can carry us until we get the defense set."
Junior midfielder Nick Harris, who was first-team all-league last season, is the top returnee on offense.
Also back in the midfield are senior Cam Bowdy and junior Evan James, while senior Luke Holland and junior Ethan Tyack are the team's leading attackers. Bowdy was second-team all-league a year ago.
Holland scored eight goals against Hoover.
Junior Wyatt Bartlett is a face-off specialist who joined James and Tyack as honorable mention all-league selections last season.
Senior midfielder Jack Kreber and sophomore midfielder Cole Sundheimer are others who could contribute offensively.
The Shamrocks have a new goalie in senior Dom Elmo, a Watterson transfer who was first-team all-region last season in Division II.
Junior Sean McCourt and sophomore Caleb Shafer are other goalies in the program.
Senior Steven Strong is the lone key returnee at defender, where he's joined by senior Sky Wayne, junior Zach Kasun and sophomores Nick Copley and Presley Mossman.
Senior Garrett Bajec has moved from goalie to long-stick midfielder, where he's joined by junior Troy McConnaughey and sophomore Cam Kirk.
"We have high hopes," Comisford said. "(We) just (have to) worry about us and become the best team we can be."
March 24 -- at North Canton Hoover
March 27 -- vs. DeSales
*April 5 -- vs. Hilliard Davidson
April 7 -- at Hudson
*April 10 -- at Pickerington Central
*April 12 -- at Newark
April 13 -- vs. Jerome
*April 16 -- vs. Marysville
April 19 -- at St. Charles
*April 24 -- at Gahanna
*April 26 -- at Pickerington North
April 28 -- vs. Hudson Western Reserve Academy
April 29 -- vs. Louisville St. Xavier
*May 2 -- vs. Upper Arlington
May 5 -- vs. Detroit Catholic Central
May 6 -- at Orchard Lake (Mich.) St. Mary's
May 9 -- vs. Scioto
March 20 -- vs. Granville
March 22 -- vs. Hartley
April 3 -- vs. Thomas Worthington
*April 5 -- at Hilliard Davidson
April 7 -- at West Chester Lakota West
*April 10 -- vs. Pickerington Central
April 14 -- at Jerome
*April 17 -- at Marysville
April 19 -- vs. Olentangy Orange
April 23 -- at Columbus School for Girls
*April 25 -- vs. Gahanna
*April 26 -- vs. Pickerington North
*May 1 -- at Upper Arlington
May 3 -- vs. Hilliard Bradley
May 5 -- vs. Hamilton (Ind.) Southeastern
May 8 -- vs. New Albany
May 11 -- at Watterson
Below is the coming schedule for the Coffman baseball, softball, boys tennis, track & field and boys volleyball teams:
*April 2 -- At Hilliard Davidson
*April 4 -- Home vs. Davidson
April 2 -- Home vs. Olentangy Liberty
April 3 -- Home vs. Lancaster
April 3 -- Home vs. Pickerington North
April 4 -- Home vs. Wellington
TRACK & FIELD
March 31 -- Wildcat Premier at Davidson
April 3 -- At Thomas Worthington
*April 3 -- At Pickerington Central
*April 4 -- Home vs. Gahanna