Nick Bourbonnais’s lower body has been racked the past two seasons. At first it was just a left groin injury that forced the Osbourn Parkstandout to miss 11 games last season as a junior and he had his sights set on a clean slate this spring.

He was forced back into the physical therapy routine after just one game in March when he suffered a hip injury in the first game of the season that caused him to miss seven more games.

“It was very frustrating. . . this is the second year that it’s happened,” said Bourbonnais, who committed to George Mason last spring. “A lot of the pain has been going away. It’s still a bit of a struggle, but I’m working with it.”

The injuries not only forced Bourbonnais to refine has role on the team — he was relegated to being the vocal leader from the sideline for a young Yellow Jackets squad this spring — but also sparked a new intelligence in his game when he returned to the pitch six games ago. He has scored seven goals in those contests, posting multi-goal games in three. Since being injured, he said, most of his scores have come off headers, a symptom of a body still physically recovering but also a sign that he is finding new angles as a forward.

Osbourn Park (9-2-2, 7-2-1) has won seven games in a row and has positioned itself atop the AAA Cardinal with Forest Park (11-2-1, 8-2-1), with those two teams meeting Friday.

“I don’t think we’re peaking yet. I do think were still at a part of the curve where we’re improving each game,” Yellow Jackets Coach Larry Nemerow said.

Osbourn Park, which didn’t play its scheduled game Tuesday against Gar-Field due to inclement weather, started the season slowly following its opening win over Osbourn. The Yellow Jackets’ next three games went to overtime, resulting in two draws and a loss, and that set the tone for a two-week stretch in which Nemerow’s squad posted just one win. Following a 17-2 campaign in 2012 that included a district title, Nemerow flirted with the idea of installing new formations this spring with a roster loaded with young talent — including junior striker Lewin Artiga (9 goals) — but was forced to retreat to the 4-4-2 system when Bourbonnais and junior defender Danny Turner were hurt early in the year.

But with Bourbonnais and Turner now back in the lineup, Nemerow has relocated two of his most vocal players on the pitch. Bourbonnais is the natural leader, and his presence demands more respect on the field, Nemerow said.

“What he does for us more than just scoring the goals, is that he’s a constant talker on the field. He helps the players position themselves. He’s just not staying, get me the ball, he’s talking about. . . step on this guy, force them this way. You know, he’s making verbal commands, that are quality verbal commands,” Nemerow said. “That kind thing is kind of like a glue that holds the team together when you have those communicators on the field.”

The Post Top 10

Oakton closed out its regular season with a 1-0 win over Westfield Monday night. . . . South Lakes clinched the AAA Liberty regular season title with a 1-0 win over Fairfax last Thursday, the Seahawks’ ninth clean sheet of the season. . . . Tuscarora (Va.) earned its fifth shutout in a row with a 3-0 win over Woodgrove Tuesday night, lifted by Angel Ceron-Garcia’s 13th goal of the season. . . . Hayfield, which was scheduled to close out its regular season on Wednesday against Centreville, played in its fourth consecutive overtime game last Thursday against Mount Vernon, winning 2-1. Old Dominion recruit Kelvin Centeno scored both goals in th the game, upping his season total to 14.

1.Oakton (11-0-2) LW: 1

2.South Lakes (11-1) LW: 2

3.Tuscarora (Va.) (12-0-2) LW: 4

4. Lake Braddock (7-0-5) LW: 3

5.W.T. Woodson (10-2) LW 6

6.Herndon (8-1-3)LW: 5

7.Hayfield (12-0-1) LW: 7

8.Osbourn Park (9-2-2) LW: 9

9.Forest Park (11-2-1) LW: NR

10.T.C. Williams (9-3-2) LW: 8

Dropped out: No. 10 Broad Run (10-3-2)

Bubble: Potomac Falls (10-2), West Springfield (8-4)

Records through Tuesday

Related: Mount Vernon’s Kargbo finds solace on the pitch after parents’ death

Girls: Stone Bridge aims for perfection; Westfield poised for playoff run

Schedule: Boys | Girls

Standings: Boys | Girls

Statistics: Boys | Girls

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