It may be a new year and the opponent may be different, but the fourth-ranked Potomac Falls girls' soccer team's run through the AA playoffs is starting to resemble last year's.
In 2004, the Panthers battled Dulles District rival Broad Run twice during the regular season and met the Spartans again in the district, Region II and state finals, dispatching them each time.
This season it's been No. 9 Stone Bridge playing Potomac Falls in the championship games and, thus far, the results have been similar. The Panthers defeated the Bulldogs, 1-0, for the district crown and earned their second consecutive region title with a 2-0 win over visiting Stone Bridge on Friday night.
"It almost feels like the same run," Panthers Coach Kris Kelican said. "We're playing tight games, but we're pushing through at the end and finding a way. Even though we struggled for 80-some minutes to find the net and have some opportunities, they find a way at the end to come through. It's a lot of heart and a lot of guts."
In the region final, Potomac Falls and Stone Bridge battled for nearly 90 scoreless minutes before forward Ashleigh Snook converted defender Lauren Malan's pass near the end of the second overtime period.
Through four meetings with the Bulldogs this season, the Panthers and goalie Katie Baumgardner have yet to allow a goal, a trend they hope continues if they play them in the state final Saturday at Radford University.
"In our district we play some really tough teams, and Stone Bridge has really stepped it up this year," said Snook. "I really think we might see them again at states. I'd love for that to happen because both teams are really good, and it's a great match-up."
For Potomac Falls, there is only one outcome that will be satisfactory, and before Kelican allowed his team to leave the field Friday night, he reminded his players that only three games stand between them and a three-peat.
"It's our last year, and a lot of us are going off to college," Snook said about the six seniors who are nearing the end of their careers with Potomac Falls. "Some will be playing in college and some won't, but we want to go out with a bang and show everyone we can do it."
Their state title quest will begin Tuesday night when they host Courtland.