Niko Marcich (10) and third-ranked West Springfield host unbeaten conference rival T.C. Williams in a key clash on Thursday night. (Richard A. Lipski/For the Washington Post)

West Springfield forward Kyle Petitt forced his way onto the varsity roster as a sophomore last spring with quality play, despite coming off a medial collateral ligament tear suffered in a club game. His place on the team validated not only the work put into the recovery effort, but it also gave him an opportunity to wear the same jersey as the team’s star player, and his older brother, Jordan.

“That was possibly one of the greatest experiences of my life,” Petitt said. “I look up a lot to my older brother.”

But much of Petitt’s season quickly washed away with another injury, this time in the hamstring – and he was never able to realize his full potential because of it. West Springfield graduated plenty of talent from that eight-win team, including Jordan Petitt, who has since gone on to play soccer at Virginia Wesleyan. His departure, no matter how difficult for the younger Petitt, presented an opportunity for a new role.

“It definitely catapulted me into a leadership role this season,” Petitt said.

And once Petitt got healthy entering this season, he seized that opportunity. The junior midfielder has had one of the most productive offensive seasons of any area player through April, scoring nine goals in nine games, chipping in three assists and helping the Spartans (7-2) nearly reach last season’s win total in the first two months of the season alone.

How West Springfield handles itself during the third month is all that really matters to Petitt, who has scored three goals and tallied two assists in his last three games. He has much of the same skill-set of his older brother, he said, including a dangerous ability on the first touch.

“He really opens things up for us, and gives other people a little bit more time on the ball because teams have to honor his presence,” West Springfield Coach Josh Harris said. “So that’s helped us for sure.”

West Springfield opened the season at a torrid pace, beating three top-10 teams in a 10-day span – Yorktown, Chantilly and Lake Braddock – but that start has been dotted with lessons. A 3-1 loss to No. 1 Oakton on April 7 was one of them; the team got off to a slow start, and by the time it found a rhythm in the second half, it was too late. And now West Springfield must rebound again after its second loss of the season on Monday, a 2-1 setback against West Potomac.

Petitt has goals in both the Oakton and West Potomac matches, and has scored in seven different games. He has also benefitted from the midfield touch of senior Niko Marcich, who has dropped eight assists this season and has been a centerpiece to a number of wins – including an early-season test against Chantilly. And it has a veteran backline that has given up just two goals in the last four games, complementing three shutouts this season.

The Spartans will receive another stiff challenge Thursday night against undefeated T.C. Williams (8-0), which will be a litmus test for West Springfield as the postseason quickly approaches.

“I think that if everyone stays healthy, and we continue to perform at this level,” Petitt said, “we can go all the way to states.”

The Post Top 10

Joe McCreary’s fourth goal of the season lifted Yorktown to a 1-0 win over Mount Vernon Monday. . . . Broad Run defeated Freedom-South Riding 5-0 Tuesday, led by two goals from Ryan Mayolo. . . . Washington-Lee has won three of its last four games by a combined margin of 17-0, including a 8-0 win over Robinson earlier this week. . . . With a 2-1 win over Jefferson Monday, Langley has won six of its last seven, five of which of have come on the road.

1. Oakton (6-1-2) LW: 1

2. Yorktown (8-1-1) LW: 3

3. West Springfield (7-2) LW: 2

4. Briar Woods (6-0) LW: 4

5. T.C. Williams (8-0) LW: 5

6. Forest Park (6-1-1) LW: 6

7. Tuscarora (8-1) LW: 7

8. Broad Run (9-1) LW: 8

9. Washington-Lee (8-0-2) LW: 9

10. Langley (6-1-2) LW: 10

On the bubble: Fairfax (5-2-1), Osbourn Park (6-2-2), Battlefield (6-2-1)

Records through Tuesday