The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


October 1, 2013

Jon Gerardi's H.S. soccer column: Shikellamy boys surprising some people

Last year, Shikellamy coach Jon Steese heard from a handful of coaches that had the Braves been in any other conference except HAC-I, they probably would've been a postseason qualifier.

That may be hard to believe when considering the Braves were just 2-16 last season, but when looking at who they have to play -- Lewisburg, Midd-West, Danville, Selinsgrove, Mifflinburg, Milton -- it's easy to see where a lot of a young team's losses came from in their extremely tough division.

When this season started, Steese told his team that if they didn't qualify for districts this year, it'd be the first time in awhile that none of the Braves could say they had postseason experience.

After all, the last time the Braves were postseason-bound, the current seniors were just eighth graders. The last time Shikellamy had a four-year span with no playoff appearances was from 1999-2002.

To add to that, when the year started, Steese talked to his team and told them if the team worked hard this season, double-digit wins weren't out of the question.

It may have been a big goal for some fans to think they could qualify for districts this year, but they're definitely proving the naysayers wrong.

The Braves surprised many people -- this sports writer included -- when they got off to a stellar start this season.

Shikellamy was an impressive 5-0 before losing to Warrior Run, 2-1, on a rainy Saturday two weeks ago. Now they sit at 8-2-1 and are just a win away from the magic number to get into the District 4 playoffs.

"I am surprised by how fast we started. I thought it would take a little bit (of time). Shikellamy traditionally is a second-half team," Steese said. "This year, the guys were awesome from the start. We've been working at (getting a little better). We try to improve on it every day at practice. We've been pretty successful (so far)."

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