The perception that the Dublin Coffman High School boys lacrosse program has developed may have changed last season after it reached the state tournament for first time in more than a decade.
At least that's how the Shamrocks are approaching their third season under coach Shane Comisford, who guided the team to a 21-2 overall finish that included a 16-15 overtime loss to Cleveland St. Ignatius in a Division I state semifinal.
"We know we've got the target on our back, but that kind of keeps them level-headed and playing Coffman ball," Comisford said.
The Shamrocks, who previously reached a state semifinal in 2002 when there were just two Dublin programs, also won the OCC-Central Division title outright last season, going 7-0 to finish ahead of runner-up Upper Arlington (6-1), after sharing the championship with UA and Hilliard Davidson in 2017.
The Shamrocks opened March 16 with an 11-5 victory over Olentangy and beat Jerome 10-1 on March 21 and Scioto 17-4 on March 23 to capture the Emerald Cup for the third consecutive season.
Coffman was 4-0 after beating Weddington (North Carolina) 8-6 on March 25 and before playing Mooresville (North Carolina) Lake Norman on March 26. The Shamrocks open league action April 4 at Hilliard Davidson.
The Shamrocks lost the league Player of the Year and an All-American honoree in attacker Cam Bowdy, who had 57 goals and 57 assists last season and ranks first in program history in points (278) and assists (138). Bowdy now plays for Denison.
Also lost to graduation were attacker Luke Holland, who scored 84 goals last season, and three others who earned league honors, but the program seems to still be bursting with numbers and talent.
Senior attacker Evan James, who was an All-American and had 59 goals and 34 assists last season, scored four goals in each of Coffman's first two games. Senior attacker Ethan Tyack also returns after having 51 goals and 58 assists.
Seniors Nick Harris (midfielder), Zach Kasun (defender), Troy McConnaughey (defender) and Wyatt Bartlett (midfielder) and juniors Cam Kirk (defender) and Cole Sundheimer (midfielder) are returning regulars.
Senior midfielder Will Hunter did not play last spring but is expected to be a key contributor. Junior Ian Thomas is another top midfielder.
Senior Jackson Vanderstoep and junior Pete DeAngelo are long-stick midfielders, and senior Sean McCourt and junior Caleb Shafer are the goalkeepers.
The other seniors are Cam Andrews (attacker), Sam Carpenter (midfielder), Reilly Hazen (attacker), Hassan Radda (midfielder), Michael Shera (attacker) and Alek Willis (midfielder).
"We're probably the deepest we've been since I started at Coffman," Comisford said. "We lost two games by one goal each in overtime, so we were that close last year. They're fired up and ready to go."
Girls lacrosse team deep in athleticism
Of the 16 players on the girls lacrosse team, eight are seniors.
Complementing that base of experience is the athleticism that multi-sport athletes such as senior midfielder Lexi Piekarski and senior defender Carmen Haefke provide.
"The team is looking good," ninth-year coach Michael Murphy said.
"We have eight seniors, so there's a good set of leaders. If you look at the list, each one has played another sport at Coffman. We're very athletic this year and we're going to hopefully have a chance to take advantage of that."
The Shamrocks opened March 18 with an 11-8 victory over Watterson but lost to Granville 8-5 on March 21. They open OCC-Central action March 4 at home against Davidson.
Piekarski is a Kent State signee who had 17 goals and 12 assists and 22 caused turnovers last season. Haefke had 16 caused turnovers a year ago.
Senior attacker Delaney Murray, who had four goals against Watterson, finished with 51 goals and 28 assists last season as the Shamrocks went 13-5 overall and 5-1 in the OCC-Central to place second behind UA (6-0).
Senior Starsen Kinzer returns at goalie after making 83 saves last season, and senior attacker Renae Tonon is back after having 23 goals and six assists a season ago. Senior Brooke Kappeler is a key returnee at defender.
Sophomore midfielder Amanda Bailey (18 caused turnovers) and sophomore defender Abigail Elliott (43 ground balls, 18 caused turnovers) also have returned.
The other seniors are Elizabeth Niemiec (attacker) and Brigid Phelps (defender).
Also on the team are juniors Reese Collins (defender), Ainsley Hartman (attacker) and Grace Kennedy (midfielder), sophomores Addison Miller (attacker) and Mary Proctor (midfielder) and freshman Elliot Chinnock (attacker).
"Our midfield has very good speed, so we're looking to play faster with our transition," Murphy said.
"We're hoping to again be very competitive. We're a very good team and we want to get to that next level and be one of the top teams. It's a small roster and we're keeping an eye on the younger kids, too."
Below are the coming schedules for the Coffman baseball, girls lacrosse, softball, boys tennis, track & field and boys volleyball teams:
March 28 -- Charlotte (N.C.) Community Christian at Punta Gorda, Fla.
April 2 -- Home vs. Scioto
April 3 -- Home vs. Worthington Kilbourne
April 2 -- At DeSales
April 1 -- At Olentangy Liberty
April 2 -- Home vs. Lancaster
April 2 -- Home vs. Olentangy Orange
TRACK & FIELD
April 2 -- Home vs. Thomas Worthington
*April 3 -- At Gahanna