For Potomac (Va.) soccer player Kyle Kingsberry, the previous three seasons have been filled with much disappointment.
During a seven-year span, the Panthers had won only one game, a 2-0 victory against Forest Park during the 2001 season, the Bruins' inaugural season.
However, this season, Kingsberry and his teammates have displayed a new found sense of enthusiasm.
The team has doubled its victory total over the past seven years. Despite having a record of 2-3-1, the team's vibe has gotten much better with its recent success.
"We actually have chemistry and I think we've always had good players but now we are just enthusiastic," said Kingsberry. "Every goal we score is a good feeling."
Last Friday, Wilmer Arana was perhaps too excited after scoring a goal during a 3-2 loss against No. 4 Osbourn Park that the junior midfielder was given a red card for excessive celebration.
"After [Arana] scored he was very excited," said Kingsberry, who saw Arana score his first goal of the season nearly 60 minutes into the contest. "Osbourn Park is very good team and they have always beaten us 6-0 or 5-1 so it was great to play them close."
Potomac's progress this season can also be attributed in part to first-year coach Melvin Klugh, who moved Potomac's top goal scorer this season, junior Douglas Boateng (seven goals), to forward after Boateng struggled to score at the midfielder position last season.
"I think other teams look at us on the schedule and they don't think its going to be a pushover or a cakewalk," said Boateng. "I want us to go out there for 80 minutes and leave it all on the field."
Weather or Not
The fifth-ranked Oakton boys have managed to play four games, which is more than some teams. Still, a certain level of frustration can set in as matches are postponed and practices are forced indoors by the wet weather. Cougars Coach T.J. White has held up the school's football team as a model for his players.
"With the sniper and all they were inside for [three] weeks, barely playing any games, and they didn't complain and they worked hard and they made it all the way to the state final," White said. "They're a good example for us all. We're not as good as we have been in the past, but our work ethic this year has been surprising."
Indeed, Oakton is off to a 3-1 start thanks to victories over a trio of the AAA Northern Region's most powerful programs. Seniors Ryan Cassel and Steven Dellamore have taken White's message to heart and led the way. Normally a wide midfielder, Cassel asked to play up front with club teammate Dellamore as the scoreless April 1 game at Robinson went into overtime. Each scored a goal as the Cougars prevailed, 2-0. Cassel, who will play for Virginia Wesleyan in the fall, then set up the Mount St. Mary's-bound Dellamore for the game-winner in a 2-0 win over Yorktown on April 3.
"They're like the engine of the team," White said.
Bouncing Back Strong
The goals allowed this season by Robinson goalkeeper Loretta McNamee could have been avoided. The junior, who recorded 17 shutouts last season to set a AAA state record, could have just stayed on the sideline after a collision injured her knee in a 2-0 loss to Centreville.
The trainer "had to make sure my knee was okay, but when I went back in was when they got the goals," McNamee said. "Playing my best obviously is not letting in a goal. If I let in a goal and we still win. I still did my job."
McNamee has been counted on to do her job since becoming the starting goalie last season, in which Robinson had no backup goalie. McNamee's health and lack of experience was protected by a veteran defense that helped the Rams win the girls state title last season.
"I think playing behind a veteran line was great for her confidence," Robinson Coach Jim Rike said. "We had some injuries [on defense] and no matter who we put in there, Loretta produced."
Since the setback in the second game of the season against Centreville, the Rams defense has produced three straight shutouts. Robinson played No. 8 Oakton to a scoreless draw, and followed that up by blanking W.T. Woodson and Langley.
"Everyone just wanted to go back out there and play against some really good teams," McNamee said. "We've come back with three really strong games one after the other."
The fifth-ranked Rams are currently playing in the Charger Golden Goal Spring Break Challenge, which is being hosted by No. 1 Chantilly. Robinson is scheduled to face Osbourn Park on Saturday and the host school on Monday.
Special correspondent Ashton Williams contributed to this report