STATE CHAMPIONS

For most of the members of the Dublin Coffman High School boys lacrosse team, this season was about bringing to completion something that started long ago.

Senior midfielder Will Hunter remembers playing with some of his current teammates as far back as kindergarten.

Others, such as senior defender Troy McConnaughey and senior attacker Evan James, have similar stories of being on the field with the same group of players for almost their entire lives.

For a 15-member senior class that McConnaughey called "a group of brothers," beating defending state champion Cincinnati St. Xavier 13-8 on June 1 at Ohio Wesleyan for the Division I state title couldn't have been sweeter.

The Shamrocks reached a state semifinal for the first time since 2002 last spring and lost to Cleveland St. Ignatius 16-15 in overtime, but they avenged that loss with a 15-8 victory over the Wildcats in a semifinal May 28 at Wooster to advance to their first state final.

"It's been a long time coming," Hunter said. "We're all just so happy to be here and finish what we started."

The Shamrocks followed a 21-2 finish last season by going 21-1. Their only loss came against Bloomfield Hills (Michigan) Brother Rice, 8-6 on May 4. Brother Rice was 20-0 before playing for a state title June 5.

Hunter, who scored with 4 minutes, 23 seconds left in the first quarter of the state final to give Coffman a 5-1 lead and added a goal with 5:16 remaining in the second period to make it 7-3, was convinced his team could complete a state-title run shortly after the loss to Brother Rice.

"At the end of the first quarter (of a 13-6 victory) against New Albany (on May 7), we were down to them, actually, coming off our loss to Brother Rice," Hunter said. "We kind of just got going right then and finished the deal."

James, a Loyola recruit who was named state Attacker of the Year, scored with 1 second left in the first half of the state final to give Coffman a 10-5 lead. The Shamrocks stretched their lead to 12-5 early in the third period against St. Xavier, which beat Coffman 19-11 the last time the programs met in 2017.

"Midway through the fourth quarter, the tingles started coming and I started getting excited," James said. "That was a battle. That's a great program. They're young, too, but it's just excitement. We've been working for this for a while."

At the center of the Shamrocks' offensive production were James, senior midfielder Nick Harris and senior attacker Ethan Tyack.

James had 85 goals and 35 assists and leaves as the program's all-time leader in points (301) and goals (199) to go along with 102 career assists.

Harris, a Notre Dame commit who was named state Midfielder of the Year, is tied with 2011 graduate Ryan Borcherding for second in program history with 166 career goals, and Tyack, a Denison recruit who had 41 goals and 37 assists this season, finished with 142 career goals to rank fifth in program history and leaves as the program's all-time leader in assists with 139.

Senior faceoff midfielder Wyatt Bartlett, senior defender Zach Kasun and senior long-stick midfielder Jackson Vanderstoep were first-team all-state and senior goalkeeper Sean McCourt was third-team all-state.

Midfielders Sam Carpenter and Hassan Radda also were key seniors.

Junior midfielder Cole Sundheimer, who was third-team all-state, should be among the team's top returnees.

Junior long-stick midfielder Pete DeAngelo, junior defender Presley Mossman, junior midfielder Ian Thomas and sophomore attacker Peter Tyack were other key players.

Junior Caleb Shafer served as the backup goalie.

Others eligible to return include juniors Griffin Guetle (midfielder), Cam Kirk (defender), John Levins (defender), Jonah Paoletti (midfielder), Matt Stein (midfielder) and Hunter Wojta (defender) and sophomores Nate Brown (midfielder), Ian Carrol (midfielder), Ben Holland (attacker), Chris Maloney (defender), Connor Mathews (midfielder), O.J. Morris (midfielder), Tyler Peterson (midfielder), Spencer Richardson (long-stick midfielder) and Chris Tabit (midfielder).

"(The state title has) been our goal for three years and (we) couldn't do it with a better group," said Shane Comisford, who was named state Coach of the Year.

"They just love each other. None of them wanted this season to end at all. They saw it coming and just did it. This group is amazing and we're really going to miss these seniors, but there's talent standing behind them and (they) are ready to go, so hopefully we can repeat next year."

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek