Lori Quintavalle and her coaches suspected something special was happening after the season opener.
But they bit their lips until the Haddonfield girls' soccer team was well into what has developed into a dream season.
Haddonfield (25-1) plays Parsippany Hills (9-12-1) in the Group 2 state championship game Saturday at 10 a.m. at Kean University.
Quintavalle doesn't want to say she saw this coming on Day One.
But she did - sort of.
"You don't want to say anything after one game," Quintavalle said of her team's 6-0 win over Audubon on opening day. "But you could see it then."
A few weeks later, there was no denying the sense around the team.
"I would say there was a feel after maybe six or 10 games into the season where we [coaches] were looking at each other and saying, 'Oh my God, we've got something here,' " Quintavalle said. "These kids were having so much fun and working so hard and just taking it one day at a time and living in the moment."
Haddonfield won its first 20 games. The Bulldawgs' lone loss was to eventual champion Lenape, a Group 4 program, in the South Jersey Soccer Coaches Association tournament.
In the state tournament, Haddonfield has scored a 1-0 win over Cinnaminson in the sectional final and a 1-0 win over Robbinsville in Tuesday's state semifinal.
"Just so amazing," said junior Julia Parker, who scored the lone goal Tuesday on a header off a corner kick by sophomore Nic Green. "I just feel so accomplished as a team right now. We've worked so hard to get here."
Parker, Green and Madison Bee have led the Haddonfield attack, while Sophia Schwab and Annie Stanton have fortified the back line.
Haddonfield, which is seeking the fifth state title in program history, meets an unlikely foe in Parssipany Hills, which lost its first nine games and was the 13th seed in its sectional tournament before embarking on a remarkable post-season run.
"We just have to continue to work hard," Quintavalle said. "We told them, 'Just continue outwork the other team, and good things will happen.' "
Soccer State Finals
Saturday at Kean University
Group 2: Haddonfield vs. Parsippany Hills, 10 a.m.
Sunday at Kean University
Group 1: Haddon Township vs. Verona, 10 a.m.