High-scoring Shiffert wins award
Two years ago, Northern Lehigh's Channing Shiffert set a school record for goals in a season, which led to him being named the TIMES NEWS Boys' Soccer Player of the Year.
An injury (dislocated patella), kept him from repeating those accolades last year.
Through long, hard rehabilitation, Shiffert returned to top form and broke his own record with 28 goals, added nine assists and helped lead the Bulldogs to their first ever District 11 playoff berth. He finished an outstanding career with 61 goals and 35 assists.
Scoring three or more goals in seven games this season, Shiffert earned enough respect to receive the 2011 TIMES NEWS Area Boys Soccer Player of the Year honors again.
"The only thing that really matches the amount of talent he has, which is very considerable, is his work ethic," said Northern Lehigh head coach Jason Reinhard. "He led by example the entire year.
"He has a tremendous sense of the game. It's something you can't teach, but comes with a lot of playing and he plays nonstop throughout the year. He's like a coach on the field, not only to the less-experienced players, but to his teammates in general. He can direct traffic on the field. He can call out where the ball should be going and when he has the ball at his feet, he can put it exactly where it is supposed to be. It's very few and far between that he doesn't have the right idea in his mind as to what should be going on in the game."
Shiffert has such a knack for the game.
Reinhard said it wouldn't have mattered what position Shiffert would have played, he would have been an asset on the field.
"No matter had it been striker, or if I would have put him back at sweeper he would have been the best player on the field," Reinhard said. "There's no doubt about it, he could excel at any position."
It definitely made Reinhard's job a little easier, since he took over as head coach just prior to the start of preseason.
Shiffert admitted being shocked with the coaching change, but felt now that it couldn't have worked out better with having Reinhard as the one to take over.
"He came in and sat us down and told us the talent is here, you have what you need to win, so it's on you guys and I'm just here to add what I can," Shiffert said. "After he walked out of the room, the seniors stood up and said we have the right players here so we have to put it all together because we were the ones out on the field.
"For us to finally have that successful season that Northern Lehigh has always been looking for was great. We can really hold our heads up high and it was something that all of us looked forward to do. We made districts so now hopefully we can look up and keep the program getting stronger."
During the offseason, Shiffert plays on a club team called FC Delco down in the Philadelphia area and plays fullback and is more of a defender.
"I get to play a defensive center-mid position and even get to play as an attacking right back," he said. "It's different. You have to change your whole mindset coming into the season. The first couple of practices I was shaky. It was a complete change. From being in a position where you don't take anyone on to just keeping the ball from going at defenders was different, but a good change."
"I didn't get the kind of recognition in the offseason because of the injury, so I hit the weight room to start training that leg so I could go into the season 100 percent," Shiffert noted. "It kind of lit the fire under me and I entered the year at full strength.
Shiffert had quite a start, scoring 11 goals in his first three games this fall, including four against both Palmerton and Wilson.
"I felt like in the beginning of the year, we still weren't getting enough credit because people didn't know what to expect," he said. "Last year was kind of unsuccessful for me. I had the injury, I was out and only played a couple of games.
"Taking it to Catty in our opener and beating them 6-1 is a game that stands out to me, along with the Palisades game. We went down there and they were undefeated and we handed them a loss so that was a big confidence booster."
Shiffert wants to continue playing soccer after he leaves Northern Lehigh this spring.
"Maybe playing pro isn't in my future, but I want to go to a place where I can compete hopefully at a high level."
There's no doubt though, you will find Shiffert somewhere on the soccer field this fall.