Lake Braddock's top-ranked field hockey team has been so successful since 1990 that Coach Diane Miller admits the Bruins often play more to avoid losing than to win. Last night, when the Bruins faced their latest upset-minded contender, the strategy worked once again.

Lake Braddock scored less than two minutes into its game against West Potomac, then held on for the next 58 minutes to earn a 1-0 victory under the lights at Lake Braddock. In so doing, the Bruins recorded their 10th shutout and improved their record to 9-0-2.

After sophomore Paula Faherty scored from four yards out just 1 minute 57 seconds into the contest, Lake Braddock switched to a defensive-oriented approach, the same one that has helped them to eight Northern Region titles this decade.

"We played more not to get scored on," Miller said. "That's the most [sophomore goalie Allison Ford] has been tested all year, the most pressure any of our goalies has faced. I think [West Potomac] is very good."

West Potomac (5-4) last week defeated No. 8 Annandale, which had played Lake Braddock to a scoreless tie on Sept. 24. So last night's game shaped up as a good test for the Bruins, who came into the game having outscored their opponents 19-2.

Despite all the region titles, Lake Braddock has failed to win a Virginia AAA title, falling four times in the championship game. Still, Miller said a main focus for her players this season has been not just to win, but not to lose.

"We don't want to be the first team to lose [the region title]," Faherty said. "It's hard because we have such a young team, but I think we can do it because we have a lot of talent."

Notes: Next week will be a big one in Virginia's Northern Region, with games having implications in both the Liberty and Concorde districts.

Langley, atop the Liberty (8-1, 10-2-1), will play third-place Fairfax on Wednesday and second-place McLean on Friday. McLean handed Langley its only district loss, 5-0, on Sept. 21. But Fairfax beat McLean, 2-1 in double overtime, in the second game of the season.