It has been a strange and tough four days for Churchill's soccer team. The Bulldogs, who began play on Saturday undefeated, yesterday lost their third straight game.

This time John Mondy's penalty kick buzzed past goalkeeper Greg Kaufman after 69 minutes, enabling eighth-ranked Springbrook to down No. 10 Churchill, 1-0, at Martin Luther King field.

"I knew exactly where I was going," said Mondy, who sent the game-winner inside the right post. "And I figured if I placed it there and hit it hard enough, the goalie couldn't do anything."

The Bulldogs (5-3, 4-3 in Montgomery 4A) were 4-0 when they met Whitman Saturday. But in each loss Churchill has fallen victim to late-game heroics. Whitman's Martin Keeley scored the game-winner at 78 minutes in lifting the Vikings, 3-2. On Monday, Geoff Thompson's goal at 79 minutes tied the game for Blair at 1-1 before Cletus Lionel won it for the Blazers in overtime.

So Churchill arrived at Martin Luther King Field in a must-win situation. Last year the Bulldogs finished 8-3-1 and failed to qualify for the playoffs. A third loss with four games still remaining, including away games at No. 3 Bethesda-Chevy Chase and No. 4 Walter Johnson, could prove insurmountable.

But Churchill, although able to move the ball and get high-percentage shots, could not beat Springbrook keeper David Pan. He finished with five saves, including a few point-blank stops.

"We didn't get it done," said Churchill's Heemun Kwack, who blew a scoring opportunity when his open shot from inside the penalty box sailed over the crossbar. "We came out today with our backs against the wall and we didn't play as well as we could have. We're going to have to go undefeated the rest of the season to make the playoffs."

Springbrook (6-0-1) hosts B-CC Friday and travels to Whitman Tuesday. But the Blue Devils served notice that although they are young, they are beginning to jell as a unit.

Yesterday the Blue Devils relied on Festus George and Matt Gannon to help stymie Churchill's second-half pressure. The Bulldogs had nine second-half shots but George and Gannon thwarted Churchill's attack and delivered the ball to the wings to keep the attack moving.