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Jeannette boys have new attitude 7 years after program shut down

| Monday, Sept. 23, 2013, 11:27 p.m.
Eric Schmadel | Tribune-Review
Jeannette defender Brad Snyder plays a ball upfield as Greensburg Central Catholic midfielder Tim Szeckley moves onside during their game Monday, Sept. 21, 2013, in Greensburg.

The bus ride home after the Jeannette boys soccer team's 4-0 loss at Greensburg Central Catholic Saturday was hardly enjoyable.

But as frustrating as it might have been, the Jayhawks took solace in the fact that it didn't always used to be that way.

For one, for a couple of years there wasn't a bus, a result of the program being dropped because of lack of interest from 2007-10.

And the other?

“Now that we've actually won some games, we have it in our minds that we can beat teams we thought we'd never beat,” junior goalkeeper Shawn Poth said.

Thanks to first-year coach Mitchell Steele and a group of older players set on flipping the moribund program's fortunes, Jeannette (4-3), a 2-0 winner over East Allegheny (0-8) on Monday, matched its win total from the past three years combined.

No wonder the Jayhawks are starting to take soccer more seriously and were upset they lost to GCC.

“Before it was more just hanging out, not caring as much about how they do; it was a social function,” Steele said. “Now, they hold each other accountable. I don't have to say too much.”

Which may be a good thing because Steele, a 1997 Jeannette graduate, was only hired in August. Despite the late start, the team has taken to his uptempo approach.

“The guys have responded well,” Steele said. “We've been doing some good things.”

Many of the team's 18 players are new to the sport or haven't played in several years, which has forced Steele to alter his approach.

No complicated game plans. No soccer lingo. Just hustle, be athletic and good things will happen.

“I have a lot of guys who are rusty, so we do have to tone it down in terms of how we play,” Steele said. “Keep it simple, use our skills and try to take advantage of that.”

Senior captain Bailey Chishko has shifted from the midfield to forward and had nine goals and four assists entering Monday's games. Senior Anthony Ruane was next with two goals and three assists, while freshman Blaze Tran has been a pleasant surprise with one goal and one assist.

Jeannette also is capitalizing on its chances, scoring on 70 percent of its shots in wins over Geibel, Trinity Christian and St. Joseph.

“We had trouble scoring before,” Chishko said. “That picked up. We seem to work well together.”

Jeannette started camp with eight players and played the first scrimmage with 11. Because of the success, seven more joined.

“As long as we can keep a positive attitude, we can do some good things,” Steele said. “It's still early, and hopefully we can continue doing well.”

Jason Mackey is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jmackey@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Mackey_Trib.

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