Stallions midfielder Riley Specht takes a shot against W.T. Woodson. (Courtesy photo/Aldo Razo)

Sometimes early-season play is more about the mental side of soccer than the results. Strong play in your first few games can boost confidence, whereas a couple of blowouts can sink a talented team’s attitude for months.

At South County, the Stallions have started this year with a couple of key victories. The team jumped out to a 4-0-0 record, including wins over Chantilly, Marshall and W.T. Woodson — the programs that gave them an 0-3-0 record to start last year.

“It’s huge for their confidence and their belief in themselves,” Coach Nina Pannoni said. “When we started 0-3 last year, it’s not easy. It’s not easy to pick yourself up.”

The Stallions are now 5-1-1, following a tough 1-0 loss to Robinson. But they’ve found a way to win, and it starts with their defense. South County has scored two goals in all five of their victories this season, relying on an experienced back line to see the team through tight games.

“We have three in the back that have experience playing the competition we face, and we also have a really solid goalkeeper,” Pannoni said.

“That’s what I preach first in the season is strength in the back in the defense. Then we can work on the offense because I know defense will be a big part of our success.”

For Loudoun County, defense has been good but its offense has been even better. The Raiders have been a goal-scoring machine this year, despite the loss of star forward Taylor Kibble to injury. Their 8-0 win over Park View on Monday was their fifth win of the season by four goals or more.

“Everyone has seemed to really kick it into high gear,” Coach Olivia Mackey said. “The way that these girls train and play proves that they are hungry.”

The defending Class 4 champions are aiming to maintain of sense of urgency in their repeat bid.

“The biggest challenge in defending a title is not becoming complacent,” Mackey said. “Not allowing your success from the past interfere with where we are attempting to move toward in the future.”

1. Yorktown (10-0-0) LR: 2

The Patriots have not allowed multiple goals in a game this season.

2. TC Williams (8-0-0) LR: 4

Mara Boggess and Caley Zack scored as the Titans beat Marshall, 2-1, to stay undefeated.

3. Battlefield (8-1-0) LR: 3

The Bobcats earned a big early-season win over Madison but lost to strong Stafford squad Mountain View.

4. Madison (6-1-1) LR: 1

The Warhawks bounced back from their loss to Battlefield with blowout wins over Centreville and Oakton.

5. Loudoun County (8-0-1) LR: 5

Juniors Sydney Schnell and Brooke Kirstein have combined for 29 goals.

6. Robinson (7-0-0) LR: 10

The Rams have strong early season victories over W.T. Woodson, South County and Chantilly.

7. Woodgrove (6-0-2) LR: 6

Chelsea Dougherty and Dalani Stephens scored to give the Wolverines a 2-0 win over Riverside.

8. South County (5-1-1) LR: 7

The Stallions’ hot start to the season was cooled by a 1-0 loss to Robinson.

9. Patriot (5-2-1) LR: 8

After early losses to Madison and Woodgrove, the Pioneers have gotten back on track with wins over Stonewall Jackson, Osbourn and Westfield.

10. Briar Woods (5-2-1) LR: 9

Casey O’Connor and Allie Harvich scored as the Falcons beat Tuscarora, 2-0.

Dropped out: None.

On the bubble: South Lakes, McLean, Stone Bridge