Following a season in which it gave up an average of nearly 10 goals and lost in a regional quarterfinal, the Dublin Coffman High School girls lacrosse team set its focus on having a better defense this season.
The unit, led by senior Riley McGraw, has lived up to those hopes.
Through 14 games, the Shamrocks were giving up an average of 7.5 goals. Take away a 17-2 loss to Upper Arlington on May 1, and that average drops to 6.8.
"Our defense is really solid," McGraw said. "Working as a team has really helped. We kind of just have this unspoken communication. After a goal gets scored, we have a huddle and talk about what we did wrong."
Through 11 games, McGraw had 29 ground balls and had forced 10 turnovers while usually being asked to defend the opponent's leading scorer.
A first-team all-league honoree last season, McGraw is joined on defense by juniors Carmen Haefke and Brooke Kappeler and freshman Abigail Elliott as well as junior goalkeeper Starsen Kinzer.
"They have great chemistry and, as a defense, they communicate really well," coach Michael Murphy said. "Everyone knows where everyone else is going, and it's nice to see that.
"Riley is a quiet force on defense for us. The defense led by Riley has really been setting the tone."
McGraw, who plans to attend Appalachian State, helped the Shamrocks earn the fifth seed for the Division I, Region 3 tournament.
They open the postseason Monday, May 14, at home against 14th-seeded Hilliard Bradley, with the winner to play third-seeded Thomas Worthington or 17th-seeded Kettering Fairmont in a regional quarterfinal May 18.
Coffman bounced back from the loss to UA by beating Bradley 20-11 on May 3 and Hamilton (Indiana) Southeastern 15-3 on May 5. The Shamrocks finished runner-up in the OCC-Central at 5-1, behind the Golden Bears (6-0), and were 11-3 overall before playing New Albany on May 8.
Coffman closes the regular season Friday, May 11, at Watterson, which it lost to 14-12 in the postseason last year.
Softball team sweeps Celtics, Irish
The softball team swept its crosstown rivals in the Dublin Battle for the Cure on May 5, beating Scioto 13-10 and host Jerome 10-9 to win the Jessica Hirth Memorial Trophy.
The Shamrocks scored five runs in the sixth inning and totaled 14 hits against the Irish. Then against the Celtics, they scored six runs in the bottom of the sixth to rally from a 9-4 deficit.
Sophie Maggs had four RBI against Scioto.
Against Jerome, Rylee Anspach had two hits and scored two runs but sustained what likely is a season-ending injury, according to coach Scott Tillman. Marley McDonald went 4-for-4 and Kelsi Anderson had two hits and picked up the save after taking over at pitcher in the seventh.
It marks the second time in six years that Coffman has won the Battle of Dublin.
"We've had games that we've lost like that," Tillman said.
"For us to win a game like that shows that we've grown."
Coffman is seeded 23rd in the Division I district tournament and improved to 13-11 with an 11-0 win over 44th-seeded Thomas Worthington in the first round May 7.
The Shamrocks played at fifth-seeded Delaware in the second round May 9, with the winner playing 12th-seeded Watterson or 15th-seeded Mount Vernon in a district semifinal Monday, May 14, at a site to be announced. The district final is May 18 or 19 at Pickerington Central.
Baseball team beats Wildcats
The 26th-seeded baseball team was 13-12 after beating 40th-seeded Newark 3-1 in the first round of the Division I district tournament May 7.
The Shamrocks played at ninth-seeded Olentangy in a second-round game May 9, with the winner facing 13th-seeded Canal Winchester or 19th-seeded Pickerington North in a district semifinal Monday, May 14, at a site to be announced. The district final is Wednesday, May 16, at a site to be announced, with the district champion advancing to a regional semifinal May 24 at Coffman.
With a 9-6 victory over Scioto on May 6, the Shamrocks earned a sweep of their crosstown rivals, as they beat Jerome 5-3 on May 3.
Against the Irish, Luke Bartemes had a single, double, triple and five RBI, Canyon Caldwell went 3-for-5 and Matt Dorenkott gave up just one run on four hits in four innings of relief to pick up the victory.
Boys lacrosse team earns top seed
The boys lacrosse team earned the top seed for the Division I, Region 1 tournament and opens the postseason Tuesday, May 15, at home against 16th-seeded Berea-Midpark.
The winner plays 11th-seeded Olmsted Falls or 12th-seeded Wadsworth in a regional quarterfinal May 18 at the home of the higher seed.
Coffman tried to earn a sweep of its crosstown rivals for the second consecutive season when it played host to Scioto on May 9.
The Shamrocks defeated UA 9-7 on May 2 behind six goals from Evan James and won 15-10 at Detroit Catholic Central on May 5 and 20-11 at Orchard Lake (Michigan) St. Mary's on May 6 to take a 16-1 overall record into the matchup against Scioto.
Coffman beat UA in the regular season for the second consecutive year and won its first outright league title in program history. The Shamrocks finished 7-0 in the OCC-Central, ahead of the runner-up Golden Bears (6-1).
Last season, Coffman shared the OCC-Central title with UA and Hilliard Davidson.
"We did not play our best game," coach Shane Comisford said. "(UA) is a fantastic team. They took us out of everything we wanted to do and somehow (we won). That's why we do sprints every day. It feels very good. Evan James seems to have UA's number. He just brings it. We needed somebody to step up because we weren't playing very well."
Track teams set for league meet
The boys and girls track and field teams are playing host to the OCC-Central meet Thursday, May 10, and Saturday, May 12.
Both programs then will compete in the Division I, district 1 meet that begins Tuesday, May 15, with running preliminaries, continues May 17 with field events and concludes May 19 at Hilliard Darby with running finals.
In the final tuneup before the league meet, the boys team scored 60 points in the Larkin/Crosten Invitational on May 4 at UA to place fifth of 13 teams, behind champion Pickerington Central (146), and the girls were second (94) of 12 teams, behind champion Pickerington Central (126).
Derek Van Vlerah led the boys team with a title in the high jump (6 feet, 2 inches), while Alex Dediu was runner-up in both the 1,600 (4 minutes, 29.81 seconds) and 3,200 (9:48.23) and Kaleb Holcomb was second in the shot put (47-3 3/4).
Van Vlerah battled injuries in April.
Another standout for the boys team has been Lucas Bons, who was first in the 800 (1:56.15) and 1,600 (4:14.57) in last week's area honor roll.
"Distance-wise, (Bons has been) looking pretty good," coach Kathryn Slaven said. "I think we're finally figuring out who our (400 and 1,600 relays) are."
For the girls team in the Larkin/Crosten Invitational, finishing first were the 1,600 relay of Simone Rivard-Roberts, Jennifer Schulze, Abby Steiner and Isabelle Angerman (4:05.71), Karlee North in the pole vault (11-0), Angerman in the 300 hurdles (45.2) and Steiner in the 100 (11.79) and 200 (23.82).
Tennis team ready for sectional
The boys tennis team is competing in a Division I sectional Thursday, May 10, and Saturday, May 12, at Bradley.
The top four finishers in singles and doubles advance to the district tournament May 17 at Bradley and May 19 at UA.
In singles, senior Robby Berling is the third seed and will open against Mifflin's Udhav Kharel or Whetstone's Nemedi Geda. Senior Alex Powell opens against Groveport's Christopher Salva and sophomore Peter Lin opens against Davidson's Jack Kamnikar. In doubles, senior Grant Brooks and junior Cobie Frank are seeded fourth and will open against Northland's Jason Brown and Shemar Watson, while freshmen Anton Bakunin and William Sun have a first-round bye.
Below is the coming schedule for the Coffman boys volleyball team:
May 10 -- At Westerville Central
May 15 -- OCC Challenge at Hilliard Darby