The Scotus boys soccer team suffered a 12th loss of the season, and the final one of the campaign, in a 3-2 defeat to Nebraska Lutheran/Norfolk Catholic closing 2018 in the sub-district round.
Overall, the Shamrocks were 5-12 - the first time they've suffered a losing season in at least more than a decade.
"Last year's season wasn't the way we wanted to end it," said senior captain Zach Beiermann. "When I was a freshman, the senior class was just getting the three-peat, so we're hoping to go back to state and get a winning season again."
As Beiermann mentioned, Scotus won state championships from 2014 to 2016, the only boys program to have ever accomplished three straight.
The 'Rocks have been to 14 total state tournaments, raised the trophy six times and settled for runners-up in 1998.
"Last year wasn't the Scotus way, having a losing season," Beiermann said. "So we're trying to bring it back by having a winning season and going back to state."
Head coach PJ Miller said he isn't quite sure how good the Shamrocks will be, but felt confident there would be improvement after a year in which Scotus lost five matches in a row at one point.
"It's going to be hard to judge our team until we can actually get outside," he said. "Inside we've been doing fine. All the teams are in the same boat, but until we get outside and actually see where we're at that'll be our true judging.
"I know we'll be better than last year. We've got a lot of returning seniors. A lot of the guys last year didn't have varsity experience, so we'll be better."
Although last year was uncharacteristic, Miller considers it more of blip on the radar than the beginning of a trend.
If the Shamrocks are to win more matches, and advance further in the postseason, Miller believes success will come as a result of a solid defense.
Nearly all of the back line returns, giving Scotus a veteran presence in shutting other teams down.
"We've got pretty much everyone back on defense," Miller said. "We lost four starting seniors off of last year’s team, so we had a lot of guys get a lot of experience last year, even some of the younger guys, and they should be able to step right in and keep going."
Miller also admitted that last year was somewhat of a rebuilding year. Younger players were thrust into playing roles.
"The two previous classes had 21 players graduate," Miller said. "We had 21 kids on the team total last year. It was a building year last year."
Offensively, fans can expect Scotus to score goals from a counter attacking style.
"We want the other teams to make the mistakes and counter on those," Miller said. "We want to play fast, be aggressive and play as a team."
Some the key players on this year’s squad include Beiermann, Braden Labenz, Henry Hernandez, Ross Thorson and Tyler Vaught.
The first two games of the season were supposed to take place this weekend in a tournament hosted by Scotus but were canceled due to the weather.
The next scheduled game is against cross-town rival Lakeview at 5 p.m. on Tuesday.
Peter Huguenin is a sports reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at email@example.com