Scotus Central Catholic girls soccer has a tradition unlike almost any other program can claim. The Shamrocks have been to state 22 times since the first time they qualified in 1996.
More than two decades since, SCC has won three state championships and settled for runner-up trophies three other times.
One of those second-place trophies came just two years ago when this season's group of five seniors were in their sophomore year.
As that group prepares for the final matches of their Scotus career, the pressure is on to keep the state streak alive.
For a team that returns three of its four leading goal scorers, another trip to Omaha is a definite possibility.
"Right now we are just preparing very hard, conditioning and getting all the touches we can in the gym," senior Courtney Kosch said. "We're really excited to get outside."
Kosch has been a regular starter since her freshman season, scored five times last year and has 12 goals in her career.
Scotus went 8-4 last season and lost to Elkhorn 1-0 in the first round of state.
Given the historical and recent success of the program, both players and coaches said the goal is to get back there.
"An obvious goal is to get to state, but also to make sure that we're constantly improving and getting better at each match and being able to play our best ball at the end of the season," said head coach Kristie Brezenski during practice on Thursday.
Brezenski believes making it back to state while also constantly improving are realistic goals, but the players will have to work for it and make sure they play with unity.
"We just have to make sure we're always on each other’s backs," she said. "We're always playing as hard as we can, making sure that we're doing what we can in the weight room and just making sure we're constantly just mentally and physically getting better and just gelling together."
This season, the Shamrocks saw a slight decrease in numbers with only 16 players out, but believe they'll be able to overcome any depth issues.
Because of the decrease, Brezenski decided to switch up formations.
"We're going to put a new formation in," she said. "We're going to focus on our defense. We have a couple speedsters up top, so we're hoping to get them the ball and see what they can do up top.
"We don't have a whole lot of girls. We only have 16 this year. Usually, we have like 20, and so we have more subs. Without the subs, we really have to compact on defense and utilize what we have."
The season has started out rough as Scotus, like most programs, has yet to practice outside because of the weather.
Kosch said she believes that team success comes from how teammates both push each other to be better but also stay supportive.
"Just growing up, we've seen so many championships and we've all just wanted to get there," Kosch said. "We've wanted to always win. I think that's helped us push each other and get to where we've been."
Brezenski said that being a Shamrock girls soccer player comes with a certain level of pride. Players show up every year with the intention of carrying on the tradition of winning and ending the season in Omaha.
"I don't know about pressure, but it's just an expectation," she said. "If they come in here, they need to know that it’s expected of them to play the best ball, work hard and keep the tradition going."
Though the girls have yet to hone their skills on a grass surface, Brezenski believes the time on a hardwood gym floor has built team chemistry.
"Let's get outside and then we'll finf things out," she said. "We're just trying to make things fun and positive here. We have a great bunch of girls that are really working together. Team camaraderie is really coming together, so we're excited for the season to start."
Not only does Brezenski think that Scotus can get to state, but there's the possibility to have success during the tournament as well.
"With my seniors and leadership, I really do think we can get to state and win a couple games," she said. "It just all depends on how well we can stay healthy, and how well we play together and if it can all come together we can get far."
After the opening tournament scheduled for Friday and Saturday was canceled because of weather the first game on the schedule is an away game at Lakeview at 5 p.m. on Tuesday.
Peter Huguenin is a sports reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org