The Dublin Coffman High School boys soccer team has been picking up steam as it prepares for the final two weeks of the regular season.
Winners of seven consecutive Division I district championships, the Shamrocks entered this season with more question marks than in recent seasons because of their lack of experience.
Coffman, however, is 7-2-1 overall after playing Lexington (Ky.) Paul Laurence Dunbar to a 1-all tie on Sept. 22.
"The team has been making steady progress," coach Brian Stoddard said. "The lack of experience early, coupled with the staff learning about the best combinations, has taken some time. We're improving every game, and while I'm not satisfied with where we are, I'm happy with the dedication and progress the guys have worked for to continually move us closer to perfection."
Junior midfielder Connor DesRoches and senior midfielder Colin Kirkley have led the way, according to Stoddard, whose team is 2-0 in the OCC-Central Division heading into its game Thursday, Sept. 27, at home against Marysville.
Coffman has league games remaining Tuesday, Oct. 2, at home against Central Crossing and Oct. 9 at Upper Arlington.
Other key players have included sophomore forwards Ryan Sommerfeld and Braden Shoaf, senior forward Mert Buyulu, senior defenders Hank Keefer and Troy McConn-aughey and junior midfielder David Urrea Partida.
"We're specific in the way we approach training and in preparation of games," Stoddard said. "We have goals and together work hard to achieve them. The staff is dedicated to seeing the team play for one another. That bond of brotherhood is the glue that brings all the technical and tactical components together and what we strive for on a daily basis."
Runners preparing for final month
The boys and girls cross country teams have two races remaining before competing in the OCC-Central meet Oct. 13 at Hilliard Davidson.
Junior Alex Dediu has developed into one of central Ohio's top runners for the boys team.
In the Bob Reall Invitational on Sept. 22 at Lancaster, Dediu finished first of 104 runners in 16 minutes, 15 seconds, as the Shamrocks placed eighth (191 points) of 15 teams, behind the champion and host Golden Gales (41).
Seniors Ream Gebrekidan and Evan Burton, juniors Colin Gagne and Ryan Hodge and sophomores Ryan Loynes, Dylan Segieth and Mitchell Yeater also have been key contributors.
"Alex Dediu has turned into the excellent No. 1 runner that we thought he was capable of becoming," coach Chad Biegler said. "Unfortunately, we have way too much of a gap between our No. 1 and 2, just as we suspected might be the case. As a result, we have been a very middle-of-the-pack team this year. There are probably 10 runners that have so far shown the capability to be our other six, but they all need to step up and move up in the race pack for us to be any type of contending team."
The girls team was runner-up (111) of 16 teams in the Bob Reall Invitational, behind Lancaster (77).
Freshman Madeline Erwin led the Shamrocks, placing 11th (20:10.3) of 133 runners, followed by senior Madeline Scherer (18th, 21:02.5), junior Emma Niswonger (20th, 21:03.2), senior Leah Jablonski (22nd, 21:12) and sophomores Claire Gibson (40th, 21:56.9) and Natalie Conrad (43rd, 22:01.8).
Sophomore Abby Scherer also has been among the team's top runners, according to coach Greg King.
"I feel like we will have a pretty clear top seven," King said. "We should be able to get second in the OCC this year and should make the regional meet if we run well.
"So far things are going well. We've been able to run close to or even beat some teams that were definitely better than we were last year."
Postseason nearing for girls tennis team
Before facing Olentangy Liberty on Sept. 25, the girls tennis team was 11-4 overall and had won three of its previous four matches.
The loss during that stretch came Sept. 17 when the Shamrocks fell to Upper Arlington 4-1 to decide the OCC-Central championship. UA finished 5-0 in the league and Coffman went 4-1.
Winning their court against UA were senior Lena Caruso and sophomore Ria Singhal at second doubles.
Coffman closes the regular season with home matches Thursday, Sept. 27, against Watterson and Tuesday, Oct. 2, against Bexley. The postseason begins with a Division I sectional Oct. 4 and 6 at UA, where junior Claire Feit is the third seed in singles and seniors Alex Kapustin and Anya Shah are seeded fourth in doubles.
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. 29 -- Midwest Meet of Champions at Hilliard Bradley
Sept. 29 -- At Dayton Oakwood and at Kettering Fairmont
Oct. 1 -- Home vs. Hilliard Lynx
*Oct. 3 -- At Scioto
Sept. 29 -- Jerome at Hickory Hills
Oct. 2 -- Division I sectional at Darby Creek. Top three teams and top three individuals not on qualifying teams advance to district Oct. 9 at Apple Valley.
Sept. 27 -- Newark Catholic at Marysville Golf Course
Oct. 2 -- Division I sectional at Mentel Memorial. Top three teams and top three individuals not on qualifying teams advance to district Oct. 9 at Cooks Creek.
*Sept. 27 -- Home vs. Marysville
Sept. 29 -- At Wadsworth
*Oct. 2 -- Home vs. Central Crossing
Sept. 29 -- Home vs. Hilliard Bradley
*Oct. 2 -- At Central Crossing
Sept. 27 -- Home vs. Watterson
Oct. 2 -- Home vs. Bexley
*Sept. 27 -- At Hilliard Davidson. The Shamrocks beat the Wildcats 25-17, 25-8, 25-15 on Sept. 4.
Sept. 29 -- Home vs. Cleveland St. Joseph
*Oct. 2 -- Home vs. Westland. The Shamrocks beat the Cougars 25-7, 25-7, 25-7 on Sept. 6.