In the previous four seasons, this time of year has been owned by the Marriotts Ridge boys soccer team when it comes to the Class 2A ranks.
The No. 4 Mustangs (13-1) have their eyes set on an unprecendented fifth straight state title. First up is the South region with some familiar Howard county rivals the likely candidates to try to get in the way.
The Mustangs earned the top seed in the region's Section I and received a bye to Tuesday's next round.
In past years, their most difficult challenges during the playoffs have come against their Howard County opponents.
This year, they await today's Hammond-McDonogh winner. A potential Marriotts Ridge-Hammond second round game would be a rematch from the regular season, when the Mustangs handled the Golden Bears, 3-1, on Sept. 26.
The bottom part of Section I features second-seeded Oakland Mills, which is waiting today's Calvert-Patuxent winner before opening on Tuesday.
Oakland Mills likely presents Marriotts Ridge with its sternest test should the teams end up in the sectional final. The Scorpions are 9-4-1 on the season and were able to hang tough in a 1-0 loss to the Mustangs on Oct. 17.
In that win, the Mustangs got a first-half goal from Jeff Kammerer and had to capably defend against some formidable chances the Scorpions created in pushing for the equalizer.
The Section II portion of the region only consists of three teams: Gwynn Park, Largo and Southern.
In the previous four years, Marriotts Ridge has relied a strong team game at both ends with a number of players stepping up to lead the united front. This year, it's been the dangerous one-two punch of seniors Kammerer and Amir Najib, who go into the postseason with 19 and 17 goals, respectively, this season.