The No. 8 DeMatha boys soccer team enters the stretch run of the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference regular season with a pair of streaks intact--one good, one not so good.

The Stags (11-2-2, 8-0-2 WCAC) have not lost a conference regular season game since Sept. 1997--a span of 38 games. But they have not won a playoff game since 1996 and have been bounced from the tournament by O'Connell the past two seasons.

DeMatha Coach Steve Powers said the Hyattsville private school has won a conference title in every decade except the 1990s. "And this is our last chance," Powers said. "But it seems everyone is finally on the same page and playing well together. We are where we need to be at the exact time we need to be there."

The Stags's chances have improved greatly the past two weeks. Their top defenders, All-Met Matt Oliver and Tim Esposito, returned to the lineup on Oct. 5 from back injuries. Oliver's injury caused him to miss the season's first 11 games; Esposito was out for nine games and most of the 10th.

DeMatha trails No. 5 Gonzaga (12-0-1, 9-0-1) by a half-game for the top seed in the conference's eight-team playoffs, which begin Nov. 2. Gonzaga also has lost in the first round of the playoffs in the past two seasons as well.

"Gonzaga and DeMatha might be the teams to beat," Eagles Coach Don Smith said. "But we need to get past the first round of the playoffs first." . . .

The D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association playoffs begin Nov. 18. Defending champion Wilson (5-5-1) will be looking to win its sixth conference title in the past 10 years. The Tigers defeated last year's runner-up, Theodore Roosevelt, 2-0, last month, though the teams meet again at Roosevelt on Monday. . . .

No decision has been reached on the outcome of Saturday's game between Riverdale Baptist and Capitol Christian, in which Capitol Christian used two players who graduated last year--and won the game, 3-2. Riverdale Baptist, however, believes Capitol Christian forfeited the game because it did not have permission to use the graduated players and is counting the game as a 1-0 victory.

Girls Notes In the past three games, Rockville senior All-Met forward Audra Poulin has had a season's worth of action. Poulin has played a part in all nine Rams goals, scoring five goals and assisting on four as Rockville won three straight to remain the only undefeated team in Montgomery County Division III.

Rockville is 7-2 overall, 5-0 Division III. The Rams are shooting for their first division title in 10 years, according to Rockville first-year coach Frank Weaver.

In a big divisional contest Friday, Rockville handed Bethesda-Chevy Chase its first division loss, 2-1. Poulin assisted on both goals. Poulin ended her tear Monday, recording two goals and an assist in a 3-0 win over Kennedy. The All-Met has 19 goals and nine assists on the season.

"[Poulin] is amazing," Weaver said. "Audra is good for a goal and an assist a game." . . .

River Hill, Centennial and Mount Hebron all have one loss in Howard County going into yesterday's games. Fourth-ranked River Hill and eighth-ranked Mount Hebron meet Friday afternoon at Mount Hebron at 3:15 p.m. If the two teams tie and Centennial wins its two final games, the Eagles will win their first Howard County title in three years. If there is a winner Friday, then the victorious team would be co-county champions with Centennial if the Eagles win the rest of their games.