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September 19, 2011
By PAUL MONTANA - Bulletin Sports Writer

Often when there's a new coach, there is a learning curve.

Carlisle's learning curve under first-year coach Enda Crehan has included an undefeated start in five road games, including wins over the two-time defending VISAA Division II champion and last year's runner-up.

Crehan put Carlisle through a rigorous four-week preseason regimen after taking over, and it has paid off to the tune of a 5-0 start, including 3-0 in the Virginia Independent Conference.

Their five-game road trip included 63 hours of travel, according to assistant coach Richard Hall.

"The long travel, obviously the tough preseason I've asked of them, and combining that with academics as well, they've really shown a lot of character to travel these distances and show these results against very good teams," Crehan said.

Crehan, who was an assistant for Averett University's men's team before taking the job at Carlisle, said he came into his new job with "a university attitude." His preseason included "countless hours" of running, technical and tactical work and 11-on-11 scrimmages, he said.

Crehan replaced Harry Lance, who stepped aside after six years coaching Carlisle, but Hall and David Keys stayed on as assistants.

"I think the preseason was huge," said Crehan. "It gave us just a chance to identify, ‘Well all right, we need to fix that. We can fix it tomorrow, we've still got two weeks.' Giving yourself enough time to firstly identify weaknesses and then fix them was the key for us."

Carlisle beat Highland, the two-time defending state champion, 7-1 Sept. 10, then went to Holy Cross three days later and won 2-0.

Holy Cross beat the Chiefs three times last season, which included bouncing them from the Virginia Independent Conference tournament semifinals and from the state tournament semifinals.

So far this season, the Chiefs have outscored their opponents 22-4.

"Obviously it was nice to beat the state champions and to beat the state runners-up. I know Holy Cross has been a thorn in the side for Carlisle soccer," Crehan said.

"We start every training session like we haven't played a game, or we haven't done anything yet. We start always from zero...I commend them on that. Even when we go to Highland and win 7-1, the next game they were as ready and prepared as they were the first training session I ever had them."

Carlisle will play a home game against Liberty Christian Academy at the Smith River Sports Complex on Thursday.