Coming into the spring, the Potomac Falls Panthers had not won a soccer match since midway through the 2016 season. The pile of consecutive losses had been constructed by any number of factors that can often sink a team: an unrelenting schedule, a lack of experienced upperclassmen, a new coach trying to implement his style of play.
“Over the last two years we’ve just been building and building,” fourth-year Coach Stephane Longchamp said. “My goal has been to just provide a longer term vision for the program.”
Long-term vision can provide hope for a team, but it can also become a source of frustration if the results never arrive. The Panthers entered this season with the winless drought hanging over their heads, but shook it off quickly with a 1-1 draw against Dominion in their season opener.
But a promising start quickly dissipated, as the Panthers lost their next seven games. They were hit by the injury bug, and struggled to find their footing in a district that included big names like Briar Woods and John Champe.
Longchamp tried to focus on positivity, looking to reward hard work at any opportunity and hoping for a game where his team put everything together. That breakthrough moment finally arrived in early April during a match against Tuscarora.
The Panthers were down 2-1 with 15 minutes remaining. They made an adjustment in their formation, hoping for a spark. It came, as Potomac Falls scored three times before the final whistle for a 4-2 victory.
“The response, not only from the guys on the field but the guys on the bench, was so huge,” Longchamp said. “There were guys on the bench that didn’t get on the field that were ecstatic. They were running up and down the sidelines. I told them after the game that it was a team win. That was everybody.”
A few weeks later, they fought back from another early deficit to earn a win over a Stone Bridge team that had beaten them in overtime earlier this season, pushing their record to 2-11-1.
“Those wins are just a microcosm of what we can be,” Longchamp said. “We don’t quit. We continue to work, we continue to believe.”
1. Briar Woods (14-0-0) LR: 1
The Falcons posted their third shutout in the last four games with an 8-0 win over Potomac Falls Monday night.
2. Hylton (14-0-0) LR: 2
The undefeated Bulldogs scored three goals in the first 20 minutes of play in a 4-1 win over Woodbridge.
3. Robinson (9-0-3) LR: 3
After a 3-1 victory over Fairfax, the Rams enter their regular season finale carrying a four-game win streak.
4. South Lakes (13-1-0) LR: 4
Carter Berg, Gio Severiche and Fredy Jovel scored for the Seahawks in a 3-2 overtime win against Washington-Lee.
5. T.C. Williams (10-2-1) LR: 6
The Titans fell to Annandale, 2-1, for their second loss of the year.
6. Madison (9-1-2) LR: NR
A 2-2 draw with Centreville ended the Warhawks’ five-game winning streak.
7. Westfield (8-3-1) LR: 5
The Bulldogs fell to Concorde district rival Madison for their third loss of the year.
8. George Mason (11-1-1) LR: NR
The Mustangs’ offense has been hot of late, as Mason won their last three games by a combined score of 27-0.
9. Colgan (10-3-2) LR: NR
The Sharks’ only losses this year came against Hylton (twice) and Gar-Field.
10. Washington-Lee (8-3-4) LR: 7
The Generals fell to South Lakes in overtime but rebounded with a 3-3 draw against Yorktown.
Dropped out: No. 8 Riverside (9-5-1), No. 9 Loudoun Valley (11-2-2), No. 10 Gar-Field (9-4-1)
On the bubble: Park View, Loudoun Valley, Justice