When he was named a starter for a veteran team last fall as a freshman, winning came early and often for goalkeeper Chris Lenahan and his Roadrunners' men' soccer team.
Perhaps, just maybe, a little too easy.
Yes, the Runners clicked on all cylinders as they rolled out to a 14-3 overall record, their best since the 1990s, and fell just shy of winning the Region XIX D-III title and earning a berth in the NJCAA National Championship Tournament.
Lenahan, a former Schalick High School standout earned All-Region and All-American (Second Team) honors under veteran head coach George Hobbins.
But graduation depleted the roster, and this Fall brought on new challenges for the program.
After a rough 0-3 start, the Roadrunners – thanks to solid play from Lenahan – finished on a surge, compiling s 7-3-1 mark the rest of the way en route to a 10-6-1 record and a berth in the upcoming Region XIX playoffs.
"After we lost our first three games, we started to wonder if could turn it around," Lenahan said. "We lost only three game all of last season. It was always in the back of our minds. But we figured it out. It all came together."
Lenahan's steady play as the season progressed did not go un-noticed as he earned Garden State Athletic Conference Goalkeeper of the Week honors for the period ending October 8th. He led the team with three shutout wins over Brookdale, Cumberland, and Passaic. A 2016 NJCAA 2nd Team All American, Region XIX officials noted that Lenahan is back in form, anchoring a young defense that was 3-0 last week.
And indeed, the sophomore standout finished the 2017 campaign on a high note -- credited with 7 ½ shutouts for the season.
None of this surprised head coach Hobbins, who watched his club falter early only to pick up the pace in recent weeks.
"As coaches we knew things would take some time to come together," Hobbins noted. "We had a lot of newcomers. Even when you have a roster loaded with talented kids, they need time to work together and get to know each other."
And Hobbins credits Lenahan for helping to turn the 2017 season into a bright spot.
"Lenny stepped up the challenge. We started off 0-3 and it would have been easy to fold. But he showed a lot of leadership in getting us back on track to where we are today."
One major area where Lenahan has excelled is communication, Hobbins noted.
"Chris (Lenahan) is a real field general out there in directing the young players where they should be at any given point in a game," said Hobbins. "The younger players need that on the college level. Last season we started with a veteran team, and the players knew their roles. This year Chris stepped in to help the younger players -- it's a process, but it's made a huge difference."
Agreed, said Lenahan.
"I'm a lot more vocal with the players in front of me than I was at the beginning of the season," Lenahan commented. "I needed to be."
Lenahan and his RCGC teammates hope they have improved enough once Region XIX action opens this weekend. The Roadrunners will find out who their opening round opponent will be following the regional seeding meeting on Wednesday.
"I think we have a chance to make some noise," Lenahan said. "We've been doing a lot better as we moved on through the season. We were hit pretty hard at the beginning with a lot of freshmen and basically a new team. Now it's all come together, and we feel we can compete with any team."