Just two weeks ago, the Fauquier boys' soccer team had won five games in a row and was basking in a 1-0 victory May 8 over Handley in Winchester. But four days later, the Falcons' momentum had been sapped in a 3-0 loss at home.

Though Fauquier (10-2-3, 9-1-3) bounced back with a 3-1 win against Brentsville, a team they tied earlier in the year, frustration followed with a 2-2 tie against James Wood.

"I think ties are the most frustrating for us because it's hard to account for those things," Drayer said. "But I think we've had to do some soul searching lately, and now I think we are playing better because we know what our strengths are and what our weaknesses are."

Among the Falcons' strengths has been senior captain and leading scorer Eric Kilanski (nine goals), the integral player in the team's balanced attack. In an 8-0 victory against Millbrook on April 20th, the Falcons had seven players score.

The Falcons' defense, led by senior Troy McGuinness and junior goalkeeper Zach Roszel, has been impressive; during the five-game winning streak, Fauquier's opponents did not score. The defense also was bolstered by the recent addition of Jamie Reder, a senior defender who suffered from mononucleosis for most of the season and who first came back in a reserve role in the victory over Handley.

"I think we've gone through a period of some ups and downs, but we are going to pull together in the postseason," Drayer said. "We understand what our mental lapses were [against Handley], and we are going to overcome if we see Handley again."

High Hopes for Panthers Girls

There are two things Potomac Falls girls' soccer coach Kris Kelican is absolutely certain of as the Dulles District tournament approaches.

The first is that the expectations for his seventh-ranked Panthers are too high to accept anything but one of the district's two spots in the Region II tournament. He also knows, however, that other teams in the district are certainly talented enough to put together an effort that would leave his team behind.

Because of a scoreless tie with No. 5 Broad Run last week, the Panthers find themselves in a position where they must at least reach the final of the district tournament if they are even to have a chance to add to the success of a program that has reached the state finals three of the last four years. If Broad Run does not reach the final, Potomac Falls would have to win the tournament.

"Our standards are very high, and expectations are very high. We expect to be there," said Kelican, whose team went out last year in the opening round of the regional tournament. "I think it does add a little bit of pressure because we expect to do better than we did last year. It is a different mind-set, but I think it's a good mind-set to have."

Raiders Girls Look to Surprise

Last year's team to beat, Loudoun County, has had to change its way of thinking heading toward the playoffs. After winning the Dulles District and Region II tournaments a year ago and reaching the Virginia AA championship game, the Raiders have fallen to the middle of the pack.

"From what I saw last year, we beat teams in the [regional tournament] 4-, 5-, 6-0," Smith said. "The top four teams from this district could pretty much go through this region and win it."

That will certainly be a challenge for Loudoun County this season, as the Raiders have yet to fully overcome a slow start. But Smith said even though his team isn't one of the favorites, the Raiders can have an impact.

"When you win the district in the regular season, you don't have that heaviness in your stomach," Smith said. "But a team like Potomac Falls, even with a great season like they've had -- anyone of those could upset them. . . . I'm hoping to become the spoiler this year."

Fauquier's Jacon Sprecher, right, outruns a Handley player for a loose ball during Fauquier's 1-0 victory May 4.Senior captain Eric Kilanski (13) leads Fauquier in scoring with nine goals.