Many times when there is a coaching staff change there is an adjustment period that usually means the team will struggle, especially early in the season.
Apparently the Belmont Abbey women's soccer team did not get that memo.
The Crusaders are off to a 6-0-2 (3-0 in league play) start, despite losing head coach Glad Bugariu to Division I S.C. State University in the off-season. New head coaches Erik Imler and Erik Ozimek also had to replace four starters and nearly half the offense, including the players with the most goals (Erin Kolb) and assists (Stephanie Leotti).
Heading into this past week's games against Brevard and Anderson, the Crusaders were riding a 20-game unbeaten streak. Their last loss came over a year ago, on Sept. 18, 2007, at Carson-Newman.
In Conference Carolinas play, the streak is even more dominant. Belmont Abbey's last conference loss was in September 2006 to Pfeiffer University – 29 opponents ago, including conference tournament games.
As in years past, the Crusaders are winning with defense. The team has allowed only three goals in the season's first eight games, and the program has not allowed more than one goal in a game since a 3-2 loss to Wingate in September 2007.
The offense has been led by Celene Molera. The junior from Sierra Vista, Ariz., is second in the conference with seven goals, but the Crusaders have had nine different players score goals.
The Crusadersstill has the meat of their schedule coming up, including a road trip to Columbus State, ranked fifth in a national preseason poll, and Armstrong Atlantic. In conference play they have games against Barton, Pfeiffer and Queens, all of whom also are unbeaten in the league.
The men's soccer team has alternated wins and losses and sits at 5-5 overall, 1-2 in Conference Carolinas.
Three of Belmont Abbey's five losses have come to teams ranked in the top eight in the Southeast region.
Belmont Abbey faced Mars Hill and Anderson this past week. The Crusaders now have three straight on the road, including contests at Lander, fourth in the Southeast, and Queens, who is sixth.
Head coach Lettie Wilkes' team was 4-9 overall, 3-3 in Conference Carolinas play, heading into this past week's schedule, which included two conference matchups.
Of the 15 players on Wilkes' team, 13 are freshmen or sophomores. And the Crusaders have been led both offensively and defensively by sophomores Emily Frohnapfel and Leanne Cassandra, who are first and second on the team in both kills and blocks as well as hitting percentage.