By the end of the season for the Broad Run girls' soccer team, there was very little that substantiated any preseason doubts -- and plenty of reasons why the outlook for next spring will be filled with expectation.
"We had a lot of new players, and we didn't know how far we'd make it," Spartans junior forward Liz Frank said earlier this week.
Frank's comments came just a few days after the Spartans had played in the Virginia AA championship game at Radford University and only a few weeks after Broad Run had completed an undefeated regular season.
Whatever misgivings there might have been in March were erased very quickly. The Spartans won their first 13 games, including a victory over Potomac Falls that proved to be the Panthers' only loss of the season. Broad Run was the Dulles District's regular season champion and then runner-up in the Dulles, Region II and Virginia AA tournaments.
By the end of the season, only one team -- Potomac Falls -- had found a way to beat or even tie the Spartans (20-3-1). All three of Broad Run's losses came in the postseason, the most recent a 2-0 loss in the state final Saturday at Radford University.
"We just struggled getting behind them," Spartans Coach Claire Collins said shortly after the state final, in which Potomac Falls took a 1-0 lead three minutes into the game. "That has a lot to do with their speed. But it's also just a mental game when you play Potomac Falls. I think mostly we're the same; we're even. But they got the ball in the net, and we didn't."
The respectful rivalry between Broad Run and Potomac Falls shows few signs of diminishing by next spring, with many of the teams' key players expected to be back. For the Spartans, that begins with Frank (28 goals, 17 assists this year) and sophomore-to-be Brianna Smith, whose scored her 36th and 37th goals of the season in Broad Run's 2-1 overtime victory over Hidden Valley in the state semifinals.
Six other starters from this spring are slated to be back next year as well, giving Frank and her teammates reason for optimism.
"We're looking forward to next year," Frank said. "We have a lot of talent, a lot of strengths. We're looking forward to winning championships. . . . I think we're still going to be okay."
Staff writer Angela Watts contributed to this report.