With 15 seniors and numerous key returnees from last year's Division I regional championship season, the Dublin Coffman High School boys lacrosse team entered the season with high expectations.
The Shamrocks have met those expectations, as they won their second consecutive regional title and were 20-1 before playing Cleveland St. Ignatius in a state semifinal May 28 at Wooster. The game represented a rematch of a state semifinal last year, when Coffman lost to the Wildcats 16-15 in overtime.
"It really feels good coming back to the final four again, but it was expected for us," senior goalkeeper Sean McCourt said. "We knew what we had to do and we had to lock it down. All of us are friends and we have each other's backs in any given situation. It feels good to be on the field with a group of guys like that."
The top seed in Region 1, the Shamrocks beat fifth-seeded Medina 14-8 in a regional semifinal May 21 at home and second-seeded Jerome 20-11 in the regional final May 24 at Scioto.
The state semifinal winner plays Upper Arlington or Cincinnati St. Xavier for the state title Saturday, June 1, at Ohio Wesleyan.
St. Xavier beat St. Ignatius 10-9 for last year's state championship after Cincinnati Moeller beat St. Ignatius 9-8 in two overtimes in 2017 for the first OHSAA-sanctioned state title.
Nick Harris, Will Hunter and Evan James each scored three goals against Medina, and James had five goals and three assists and Harris and Ethan Tyack both had four goals and two assists against Jerome.
Coffman and Jerome were tied at 3 after the first quarter, but the Shamrocks led 10-6 at halftime and 15-9 after three periods.
Coffman also beat the Celtics 10-1 on March 21.
"We were playing right into what (Jerome) wanted to do, and once we started doing what we needed to do, we turned it around," coach Shane Comisford said. "(Jerome is) very aggressive and they feed off of chaos. We should not be in a situation where they can create chaos. You blow past your guy, you beat your one-on-one matchup, you move the ball and we got goals."
Volleyball team falls in regional final
The boys volleyball team became just the second team from central Ohio all season to win a set against top-seeded Hilliard Darby in a Division I East Region final May 24 at Westerville Central.
The Shamrocks and the Panthers were tied at one set apiece, but Darby won the final two for a 25-19, 6-25, 25-13, 25-21 victory that sends the Panthers to the state tournament for the 14th consecutive season.
Coffman beat eighth-seeded Olentangy Liberty 29-31, 25-19, 25-21, 30-28 on May 21 in a regional semifinal at Darby to reach a regional final for the first time under fifth-year coach Shane Farrell.
"It's a blessing," senior right-side hitter Tali Berzins said. "To get here and in this way, it's just amazing. All the hard work from the past three years is what this is for."
Berzins is one of 11 seniors for the Shamrocks, who went just 7-16 in 2017 and improved to 12-13 last season before taking a big step forward this spring.
Coffman finished 18-9 overall and was runner-up in the OCC-Ohio Division at 12-2, behind Gahanna (14-0).
"We've worked really, really hard to get here and it's taken three years to build this team up from our sophomore year," senior setter Jack Proctor said. "We're finally there and it just means a lot to be able to play at the level that I know we finally can be at. I'm really proud of our team."
Seniors Cameron Burris (outside hitter), Aaron Forbush (outside hitter), Sean McDerment (middle hitter) and Cole Northup (middle hitter) also were among the key players.
Junior Ian Watabe (defensive specialist) is expected to lead a group of returnees that also should include junior Kurt Bouska (outside hitter) and sophomores Mitchell Harder (outside hitter) and Ryan Loynes (setter).
"I kind of kept (the senior class) together as sophomores and we got beat a lot, and last year we were kind of a .500 team," Farrell said. "This year, we started to click and turn it on. We have so many weapons that if somebody isn't having a great game, somebody else can step up. They started believing and buying into it, and I'm so proud of them."
Van Vlerah wins regional title
Senior Derek Van Vlerah of the boys track and field team won a Division I regional title in the high jump by clearing 6 feet, 8 inches in the regional meet that concluded May 24 at Pickerington North.
Also qualifying for the state meet Friday, May 31, and Saturday, June 1, at Ohio State were junior Jameel Williamson in the 400 meters (third, 48.08 seconds), the 1,600 relay of senior Josh Page, Williamson, junior Michael Ching and senior Ricky Pinney (third, 3:17.75), Page in the 400 (fourth, 48.14) and the 800 relay of Ching, Page, Williamson and senior Dustin Drye (fourth, 1:28.54).
Also competing at regional was Alex Dediu in the 1,600 (ninth, 4:25.81).
The top four finishers in each regional event automatically qualified for state. In addition, two at-large berths were awarded in each event based on time, height or distance statewide.
Qualifying for state for the girls team were junior Karlee North in the pole vault (second, 12-0), senior Isabelle Angerman in the 300 hurdles (third, 43.41) and freshman Katelyn Brand in the 100 (fourth, 12.53).
The 1,600 relay of Angerman, Lydia Ainsworth, Sarah Donnelly and Abigail Collier placed fifth (3:59.91).
Also competing at regional were Angerman in the 100 hurdles (seventh, 15.09), Brand in the 200 (ninth, 25.89), Abigail Scherer in the 800 (ninth, 2:20.42), the 3,200 relay of Ainsworth, Madeline Erwin, Madeline Scherer and Abigail Scherer (10th, 9:55.27), Ashley Fitzgerald in the high jump (11th, 5-1), Collier in the 400 (13th, 1:02.87) and the 800 relay of Brand, Angerman, Kendal Kolba and Hallie Mitchell (12th, 1:46.51).
The boys team finished fourth (32 points) behind champion Pickerington Central (101) as 42 teams scored and the girls were ninth (25) behind champion Gahanna (89) as 38 teams scored.
Girls lacrosse team losing eight seniors
The girls lacrosse team is losing eight seniors, including its best defender in Carmen Haefke, its top midfielder in Lexi Piekarski and its leading scorer in attacker Delaney Murray.
The Shamrocks finished 13-7 overall and placed second in the OCC-Central Division at 5-1, behind Upper Arlington (6-0).
Injuries forced Piekarski to miss four games and senior goalie Starsen Kinzer to miss most of the season.
"A (highlight of the season was) how this team would fight back after some adversity or a tough loss," coach Michael Murphy said. "Losing our starting goalie, then watching (Piekarski) be out a few games required the rest of the team to pick it up, especially on the defensive end with a freshman in goal. To watch the way our defenders worked with her and supported her was fantastic."
Murray totaled 69 goals and 11 assists and was named first-team all-region and all-league. Piekarski, a Kent State commit, had 28 goals, eight assists and 29 draw controls and was first-team all-league and honorable mention all-region.
Haefke totaled 49 ground balls and 43 caused turnovers and was first-team all-league and all-region and second-team all-state.
Senior attacker Renae Tonon had 39 goals, nine assists and 75 draw controls and was second-team all-league.
The other seniors were Brooke Kappeler (defender), Elizabeth Niemiec (attacker) and Brigid Phelps (defender).
Sophomore midfielder Amanda Bailey had 33 goals, 14 assists and 61 draw controls and was honorable mention all-league, and freshman Kelli Doyle replaced Kinzer in goal and finished with 89 saves.
Juniors Reese Collins (attacker), Ainsley Hartman (attacker) and Grace Kennedy (midfielder), sophomores Abigail Elliott (defender), Addison Miller (attacker) and Mary Proctor (midfielder) and freshman Elliot Chinnock (attacker) are others eligible to return.
"Having eight seniors as starters was a luxury, and they will be missed," Murphy said. "I'm very excited about the group returning. The underclassmen will get their chance next year to shine. Our (junior varsity) had a strong year and I look for several of those players to be able to step in at the varsity level next year."