"We were fourth place in the league last year and got a taste of success," C.B. East coach Paul Eisold said. "They know, see what it takes. They understand what it takes. It is all relative to where you want to be and where you have been."
"The Continental is so demanding," Eisold added. "It is such a grinding league."
So demanding, in fact, that the top six teams in the conference earned berths in the District 1 Class AAA tournament.
On Tuesday, the eighth-seeded Patriots began their quest to gain one of five spots for District 1 teams in the state AAA playoffs. They defeated 25th-seeded Mount St. Joseph, 5-0, in the first round of districts.
If the Patriots continue to win, they could face top seed Strath Haven in the quarterfinals.
They enter the district tournament having won six of their last seven games, including a huge 2-0 defeat of Archbishop Wood on Oct. 12.
Eisold sees his team's depth as the key to the success, adding that players such as Taylor Mysza and Jess Haug have particularly gone "above and beyond." He also credits the leadership of the senior class.
For now, Eisold says, his team's goal is to just make it to Saturday, when he hopes to be competing in a quarterfinal game, something he realizes might be difficult.
"As soon as you start to look forward, you are missing the moment," he said.
Team to watch, again. After Villa Joseph Marie went 24-1 last year and won both a Catholic Academies title and the District 1 Class AA crown, it is safe to say the expectations were high for 2012.
But as coach Rich Finneyfrock, now in his ninth season with the Jems, explained, after going to the state finals four times in his tenure, they "set the bar a little higher."
"We don't take any of that for granted, but it is almost a given," Finneyfrock said of qualifying for districts. "Everybody wants to win, but we are highly disappointed if we don't win districts. We set our goals very lofty."
Last season, the Jems lost in the Class AA state-title game, the first time Finneyfrock's squad didn't win in four state-final appearances. This season, the team is young and has gone through a bit of a "learning process," he said
In their first round game Thursday, the Jems will play Catholic Academies rival Villa Maria. The first-seeded Jems beat the Hurricanes, 6-0, in late September but defeated them by only 1-0 last week.
Finneyfrock said that, like most coaches, he wasn't happy his team would have to play an opponent for the third time in a season.
If the Jems advance to the district final, they could face Gwynedd-Mercy, the second seed. A lot would be on the line, because only one team from the district tournament will move on to the AA state playoffs.
If that matchup does materialize, it also would be the third time this season that Villa Joe and Gwynedd-Mercy have played.
Contact Kate Harman at firstname.lastname@example.org.