Oct. 29—JAFFREY — Once again, the Conant boys soccer team finds itself in the quarterfinals.
But this time just feels a little bit different.
The last two seasons have seen the Orioles get bumped in the quarterfinal round — both times by Trinity. Last year, it took penalty kicks to knock Conant off.
With Conant's 3-2 win over Inter-Lakes in the preliminary round, the Orioles travel to Belmont Sunday for the quarterfinals at 2 p.m.
Record-wise, the two teams are about as even as it gets. Conant finished the regular season at 12-3-1 — which head coach Tom Harvey believes is a school record. Belmont ended the regular season at 12-2-2.
Both teams have a playoff win under their belt.
Conant played a complete game on Thursday to punch its ticket to the quarterfinal round once again. Minus a couple defensive miscues, Conant controlled the game from start to finish, and played unselfish soccer.
"It feels really good. ... I think we're stronger than we were last year," said junior Thomas Harvey — Coach Tom Harvey's son — after Thursday's playoff game. "We've been playing together our entire lives. We're all just ready for our time to shine."
Conant's next opportunity to shine will come Saturday in the quarterfinals. Get through that and you're in the semis. Get through that and you're playing for a state title.
"It feels great, and I think if we play our game like we did today we'll win it," said junior Jordan Nagle after the preliminary round win. "We're planning to go all the way this year. We all think we can take it, now we just have to show that we can take it. I think we're going all the way. We're not going to let anyone stop us."
They'll have to get through Belmont first, of course, but the Orioles have championship on their mind.
"It's on all of our minds," Nagle said. "We think it's very realistic for us to get if we just play with a lot of intensity and we don't come out tired and with no energy. The only games we lost this season, we came out lackadaisical and not ready to play. But if we come out ready to play, we can win it all."
"We just have to keep pressing and not let up," Harvey said. "If we let up now, it's pointless to keep going. We have to play as a team and keep going as a team."
Conant Harvey has been coaching many of the boys on his team since they were close to 10 years old, all through club teams, middle school teams, and now at the varsity level.
All those years have now led to sustained success at Conant, and it's been a while since Conant has seen this kind of sustained success.
"You have to build the confidence, the camaraderie when they're young," Harvey said. "So, this didn't just happen by accident. The development of our club teams in our area have gotten a lot better and that makes a huge difference.
"This has been a long time in the making. This didn't just happen," Harvey continued. "We play club ball for years with these kids. Pushing and developing."
As for the championship outlook, even the coach is buying in.
"They're as good as any team out there. The only people that can beat them is them," Harvey said. "They've played hard all season. ... It's exciting. It's great for the school, it's great for the program. The boys do not let me down. They just don't. I'm really happy and I'm proud of the boys."
Chris Detwiler can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1411, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Chris_Detwiler.