QUINCY -- The Quincy Notre Dame soccer players understand the cliche is apt.
They have to take their postseason quest one game at a time.
"That's where you start," senior forward Mitchell Murphy said. "If you do that, you'll make it all the way to the seventh."
Even that doesn't fulfill the Raiders' true quest.
"It's about winning the seventh," Murphy said.
It takes seven victories over the course of three weeks to win a state championship. QND made it to the fifth game of such a quest in each of the past two years, only to lose by one goal in the Class 2A super-sectional both times. Reclassification seems to have given the Raiders an edge in their title pursuit, but they aren't taking the teams in Class 1A for granted.
"Nothing has changed," senior defender Ben Whittaker said. "We're still going to fight for it. Our attitude hasn't changed."
Nor has the goal. It's still seven.
"That means everything at this point," Whittaker said. "Being this is our senior year, that's all we're hoping for. We want to go out on top."
It doesn't matter who it is against.
"We have to come out with the fire and the attitude and play the game that we know," senior midfielder Colby Kapp said. "That's how we get to seven."
QND coach Greg Reis hasn't tempered those expectations. One of the first things he mentioned to his team after last week's 5-2 victory over Quincy High School in the regular-season finale was that the seven-game quest starts now. He reiterated it Monday at the end of the practice before the Raiders headed to the Carlinville Regional, where they took the first step Tuesday with a 2-0 victory over Macomb.
"We're looking for not just seven games," Reis said. "We're looking for seven wins."
The Raiders are capable of that.
QND (15-5-2) navigated a schedule filled with Class 2A and 3A opponents, going 6-1-1 in the final eight games of the regular season. Four of the six teams the Raiders beat in that stretch had more than triple QND's enrollment, and they split a pair of games in penalty kick shootouts, both of which went extra rounds.
"I like our confidence," Reis said. "I like our experience level. For the core group of these guys, for the seniors, they've been there before. Typically, the teams that do well in the postseason are senior-laden. It's pretty hard to beat the experience level we have other than actually making it to the big dance."
That experience is enhanced by depth the underclassmen have provided.
"The way we've built our team chemistry has been special," Whittaker said. "This team is super close. The relationship we have has brought it all together."
It's given then unity in their quest for seven.
"We're coming in with the same preparation, the same mentality, the same goal," Murphy said. "It's all about seven. That's what is on my mind."