At the halfway point of the season, the Flint Hill boys soccer team stands atop the Mid-Atlantic Athletic Conference standings and is enjoying a six-game win streak.
With a 7-1-1 record, the Huskies will have a tough second half filled with MAC competitors all angling to take the top spot heading into the conference tournament, which begins Oct. 30.
The Huskies have outscored opponents 20-8, but they remain dissatisfied with how they have handled scoring opportunities.
"Finishing is a big factor we have to work on," said Ricardo Manosalvas, a four-year varsity player. "We have to be averaging at least 15 shots a game, but we're getting in most of our goals only on much weaker teams. It's just a matter of putting it in the back of the net."
Manosalvas believes they otherwise have a solid team that has shown strength on the wings to set up those scoring opportunities.
"We have the pace to get in behind any defender always and knock the ball into the box to have players like [Noel Taterway] or [Brandon Alloy] just head in the ball," he said. "That's how we score the majority of our goals."
Coach Chris Brown, who admits he is a tough coach to please, has been most impressed with a defense that has allowed just eight goals all season, showing the kind of consistent intensity he hopes to see from the rest of his squad as the season gets tougher.
"What I really want them to work on is intensity yes, but consistency. Every game means the same, it doesn't matter what team you're playing," he said, adding the Huskies tend to lose focus against weaker competition. "The consistency has to remain the same, the desire to win has to remain the same. At times we look like we really want to win games, and at other times we really don't look interested. It's OK right now, but wait until you get into the real guts of the season."
And the real guts of the season has arrived: A little more than a week ago, the Huskies had a bitter battle against MAC competitor Sidwell Friends and the Huskies edged out Maret on Thursday for another MAC win. The Huskies will face rival Potomac School at 4:15 p.m. today and travel to St. Andrew's, with whom the Huskies tied at their last meeting, on Thursday.
Manosalvas has confidence his teammates, many of whom are juniors and seniors who have played together for years, can pull out those tough wins, pointing to the preparation they have received in practices that have been "more intense than I've ever seen" all season long.
He and his fellow Huskies are eyeing a MAC title, which would be the school's first for boys soccer in four years, and then make a great run in the state tournament, as well.
Though the players may have put a MAC title as their No. 1 goal, Brown is reluctant to look past the next game.
"I'm a one-game-at-a-time guy. My feeling is if you do the simple things but do them very, very well and reduce mistakes you're going to be very successful," Brown said. "But it's one step at a time, one game at a time."