If there was a team hit with the backlash of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy in 2017-18, it was the Palos Verdes girls soccer team.
Following a run of three straight Bay League titles, PV found itself on the outside looking in last year, failing to make the playoffs.
But coach Sean Lockhart feels the program learned from the tough bounces it experienced.
"We struggled to find an identity with all the changes in high school soccer last year," Lockhart said. "We gained valuable experience and return a large number of the squad, so the hope is that battle-tested mentality combined with one or two newcomers can give us a bit of a kick start."
Currently 3-1-1 heading into Tuesday's Bay League meeting with Centennial, PV returned goalie Morgan Izuno, along with juniors Anna Deleon and Syssa Padron.
PV also returns senior Katie Gesseck, who went down with a knee injury last season, alongside seniors Camilla Manis and Guiliana Morger.
Juniors Bri Bugle and Elena Wingard are a pair of juniors who contributed big minutes in 2017-18 and have started the season off strong.
But Lockhart knows high school soccer is a different beast each and every year.
"We have played some good soccer, but the two business ends of the field, the penalty areas, are where the game is won and lost," Lockhart said. "As a team, we feel we've had tons of opportunities that we would look back on and think we should take."
Heading into Tuesday's match, PV is on a four-game shutout streak, but Lockhart knows the most important part of the schedule comes after winter break.
PV opens Bay League hosting Redondo (Jan. 8) and Mira Costa (Jan. 10) before playing at Leuzinger Jan. 11.
"The return from winter break will be a key period of time because league starts before Christmas this year," Lockhart said. "(Over the break) the kids go on vacation and relax or don't touch a ball, and it's hard to get a group together to train or stay sharp."
PV played Cathedral Catholic Wednesday, and will play Tesoro Thursday in the Mater Dei Tournament before playing Narbonne and Bishop Montgomery in the South Torrance Holiday Classic Dec. 15. before closing out 2018 Dec. 22. in the South Torrance Holiday Classic.
"In previous years, we could arrange a game or two to dust off the cobwebs," Lockhart said. "Now, league starts early and we just straight back into the deep-end after time off."
Just like in other sports, Lockhart knows that some late-season magic can result in a deep run in the CIF-SS Division 1 playoffs.
"Every year, we say the same thing," Lockhart said. "Peak at the right time, and anything can happen."
PV saw five players from its 2017-18 roster enter the USSDA.