The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

September 29, 2013

Girls soccer: Shikellamy jumps out early to beat Shamokin

Daily Item

---- — By Jon Gerardi

The Daily Item

SHAMOKIN -- It was probably the look Shikellamy sophomore Mikayla Neff was hoping for.

She dribbled the ball to just in front of the goal box for a 1-on-1 with Shamokin goalie Brianna Martin.

Martin came out and was fully expecting a low shot by Neff, so she slid to stop it.

Neff timed it perfectly and, at the last possible second, tapped the ball up over Martin and to the far post for a beautiful goal with 14:26 left in the first half.

Shikellamy rode the momentum from Neff's goal the rest of the game, adding a third in the second half en route to a 3-1 nonleague win over Shamokin at Kemp Memorial Stadium on Saturday morning.

Shikellamy (6-5, 3-5 HAC-I) recorded three goals from three girls, as the Braves managed to spread the ball around with success.

"Having a lot of strength on offense rather than one person to look for is really benefitting us," Shikellamy coach Angela Sivillo.

Shikellamy broke open the game when senior Haley Bingaman fired a great shot from between the boxes to the far post just three minutes into the game.

The Indians (4-6, 1-4 HAC-II) made it a 2-1 game late in the first half when Danielle Reed made a fantastic heads-up play.

Shamokin's Gabriann Lahr had a 1-on-1 look with Shikellamy goalie Kaitlyn Harmon and rifled a shot to the center of the goal that bounced off Harmon and slowly was rolling out of bounds. That's when Reed hustled to the ball and fired a shot to the far post from just outside the goal area to cut the deficit to one.

While both teams had great looks in the first half, Shikellamy completely dominated the possession in the second half, firing 15 shots -- 10 on goal -- while the defense played stellar in not yielding a single shot on goal the entire second half.

Shamokin's only shots on goal the entire game were Lahr and Reed's shots in the first half.

Indians coach Matt Witmer declined to comment after the game.

"(The Braves) started out strong and then they got into a mentality where they were just losing control. That was our big talk at halftime," Sivillo said. "Just to have possession, keep control of the ball, have that patience and eventually a goal will come out of it. We just had to regroup and get that focus back for the second half. It worked out."

Paige Mancini came through in the second half for the Braves to get a big third goal and take the wind out of Shamokin's sails late. With 12:12 to play, she rifled a hard shot to the far post from about 10 yards out.

"To have that cushion we could relax a little more and not worry about them sneaking a goal in and playing overtime. It made me feel a lot better," Sivillo said with a laugh.

The Indians' play in the first half -- specifically the midfield -- forced Sivillo to make some adjustments.

"I told them at half to keep the ball out of the middle. That's where they were strong. They were marking us in the middle pretty tight, too," Sivillo said. "We were getting caught on the left a lot in the first half. Once we made those adjustments, it worked out in not getting shots off because a lot of them had a good shot on that other team. They played really well."

The Indians had two excellent opportunities to net a tying goal after Bingaman's opener.

Megan Kerstetter had a free kick roughly 30 yards out and had a great high boot, but it went a little right of the goal. About three minutes later, it was Michelle Bressi who had a great look from inside the 18, but she couldn't get a shot off in time as a Shikellamy defender deflected it away.