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Chiefs to face state No. 1 today
No. 2 Carlisle boys soccer travels to No. 1 North Cross in conference clash
Thursday, October 4, 2012
By DAVID REYNOLDS - Bulletin Sports Editor
The first edition of the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association Division II boys state soccer rankings came out this week, and Carlisle found itself in an unfamiliar position: No. 2.
Luckily for the Chiefs (10-1, 4-1 Virginia Independent Conference), they won’t have to wait very long to get a chance to reclaim their No. 1 spot from a season ago.
Carlisle will face No. 1 North Cross in Roanoke today for the two teams’ only meeting of the regular season, and the result will determine a lot more than bragging rights for the rest of the season.
The winner of Wednesday’s game likely will win the VIC regular season championship, which would give that team home-field advantage in the conference tournament.
“Home field is always good. We’re a fantastic team at Smith River. Does it mean we won’t win without home-field advantage? Not at all,” Carlisle coach Enda Crehan said. “We will get stronger, we will get better as the weeks go on.
“If we are home during the conference tournament, nobody’s going to want to come to Smith River. You saw that last year.”
Carlisle took both matchups with North Cross last season, winning 2-0 in the opening game of the year and 3-2 in the rematch. And in the conference tournament, held at the Smith River Sports Complex, the Chiefs outscored their opponents 12-1 in three wins.
The Chiefs did all that on their way to a perfect 17-0 record before the state tournament, where they lost in the quarterfinals.
But this year is a little bit different. Carlisle isn’t the team carrying a perfect record midway through the season; North Cross (11-0, 5-0 VIC) is.
And the Raiders have added some new players that we’re there a season ago.
“They brought in a lot of new players, that’s definitely evident,” Crehan said. “But to be honest that doesn’t really concern me, our team’s a really good team and I’m trying to focus on us. Obviously it’s a massive difference when a team brings in four or five different kids from overseas.”
Crehan said North Cross added several players from Zimbabwe and one from Germany a season ago, and he acknowledged he won’t know how good they are until he gets to see them in person.
He said his players are hungry to get a shot at the undefeated team and its new talent, however, and he expects a physical game.
“(North Cross is) going to be very technical with the ball and they’re going to know how to play the game,” Crehan said. “They’re going to be very athletic.”
The Chiefs took their only loss of the season against Virginia Episcopal School (VES), when Crehan said VES scored on its only shot of the game and Carlisle couldn’t find the back of the net despite many opportunities.
North Cross defeated VES 2-0, but the two teams both have easy wins over other common opponents this season.
“If you’re neutral, or if you just want to watch a soccer game, it’s going to be a great game,” Crehan said.