The season has been under way for only three weeks, and St. Mary's boys soccer coach Gregg Braha is already looking well into the future.
In sports, that's a big no-no.
You're supposed to follow the sports cliche and take it one game at a time. But it's different for Braha and the Pirates. They've been battle-tested game after game this season. They haven't blown out any teams. They've beaten teams by only one or two goals.
And just last week, they endured not one but two extra-time games -- experiences bound to shape them into a mentally stronger, more mature team. And that's why Braha can't help but think about life after the regular season.
"We hope to be playing soccer in the playoffs,” said Braha, who guided the Pirates to a postseason appearance last year. “We hope that this will come back and help us to play better in overtime."
Of course, St. Mary's (5-1 overall) still has plenty of soccer left this season.
The Pirates play at Lamar (2-2) at 5 p.m. Thursday, kicking of their campaign to defend their Tri-Peaks League co-championship with Fountain Valley.
Until then, the Pirates have a lot to be proud of. They could've faltered and crumbled under the pressure.
On Sept. 12, they pulled off a 4-3 win over Lutheran of Parker in double overtime -- thanks in part to junior Connor Timmins' two goals. Two days later, they got a dose of deja vu. They found themselves in another extra-time game, this time against Sierra. However, St. Mary's needed just one overtime to triumph. Junior Dom Hartman, a defender, recorded two goals, including the game-winner on a free kick to give the Pirates the close 4-3 win.
Still, Braha said he believes the experiences will only make the Pirates better.
"It's nice to have a resilient bunch who doesn't quit," the coach said.