Between its appearance in the Division I state tournament five years ago and the one it made this season, the Dublin Coffman girls soccer team went through a coaching change and won just four games in 2016.
The biggest step forward in the program's turnaround took place this season when the Shamrocks earned the No. 1 seed for the district tournament, reached a state semifinal and finished eighth in the final state poll.
Coffman lost to West Chester Lakota West 2-1 on Nov. 5 at Springfield to finish 15-2-5 overall.
In 2016, the Shamrocks finished 4-6-8 and lost in the second round of the district tournament in Costa Kalorides' first season as coach. They improved to 12-2-4 in 2017 and went 11-4-3 last year but lost in district semifinals to Olentangy Orange in both seasons.
"It means a lot," said Kalorides, who is 42-16-20 at Coffman after compiling a 78-21-15 record in coaching stints with the Hartley boys and Hudson girls teams. "I joined this program with these seniors when they were freshmen and invested a lot in their playing. I'm just so proud of them. They're leaving the program in a better place for the future classes."
Coffman is losing five seniors, including four four-year regulars in Emma Barthel (midfielder), Kinsey Crabtree (forward), Simone Rivard-Roberts (forward) and Lara Schober (midfielder). Barthel, Crabtree and Rivard-Roberts all were named first-team all-OCC-Central Division this season and Schober made the second team as the Shamrocks won the league title at 5-0.
In the state semifinal, Lakota West took a 1-0 lead with 26 minutes, 19 seconds left in the first half on a goal by Kailyn Dudukovich, but Coffman tied it at 1 with 14:16 remaining in the game on a goal by Barthel off a corner kick by Rivard-Roberts.
Dudukovich scored the winning goal with 10:55 left.
"We put it all out there," Barthel said.
"Lakota's definitely one of the best teams in the state, so I'm definitely proud of how we did.
"It's been crazy coming in with a new coach. He's definitely built this program to an amazing place and I'm sure it's going to grow to being even better."
In a regional final Nov. 2 at Westerville Central, Rivard-Roberts scored the winning goal as Coffman beat Orange 3-2 in two overtimes. Rivard-Roberts, a Xavier commit, finished the season with 20 goals and five assists.
Crabtree had seven goals and four assists, Barthel had three goals and four assists and Schober and senior defender Kendra Siefker both had two goals.
Among the expected returnees are junior forward Addie Vaccari, who had 15 goals and 10 assists, and sophomore goalkeeper Olivia Alford, who finished her second season as a starter.
Vaccari and sophomore midfielder Norah Roush, who had two goals and two assists, were second-team all-league, with Alford being named special mention all-league and junior defender Amanda Bailey making honorable mention all-league.
Others eligible to return include juniors MacKenzie Duff (mid-fielder/def-ender) and Catherine Zugaro (forward), sophomores Sydney Blake (midfielder), Lizzie Elliott (forward), Julia Flynn (midfielder), Neve Mayer (defender) and Lauren Widman (defender) and freshmen Kacey Collier (defender) and Bella Paoletti (defender).
"It's been a great journey," Kalorides said. "It's sad when any team enters the OHSAA tournament and (only) three teams out of 450 are going to end their seasons on a win, so it's kind of anti-climactic, but I think we had a fantastic regular season and we made a great run this postseason. I'm nothing but proud of what the girls have accomplished and the steps they've taken to get to the final four."