Berkley senior keeper serves as one of main reasons for playoff optimism
September 26, 2012
As he looks forward, assessing his team’s chances for a league title and even for contention in the district tournament, Steve Wloszek’s main source of optimism can actually be found by literally looking backward.
“When you’ve got a kid like Josh Shifman, you’ve got a chance to win every game you play,” Wloszek, the Berkley High soccer coach, said of his senior goalkeeper. “We’ve got some great players on this team, and that can’t be overlooked, but when it comes to why we’re fighting for first place and why we have a chance in the playoffs, a lot of it comes down to him.”
Now in his fourth year starting in goal, Shifman has established himself as one of, if not the best, keeper in Berkley history.
After a strong freshman season, Shifman burst onto the scene as a sophomore, posting a 15-4 overall record in goal with five shutouts. The Bears placed second in the Oakland Activities Association White Division with a 10-2-0 mark and finally garnered some statewide attention, according to Wloszek, who was in his first year with the team.
Shifman earned honorable-mention All-State recognition following the season.
As a junior, he went 8-5-1 with four shutouts despite missing a considerable portion of the season with an illness. He was again honorable mention All-State while helping Berkley to another runner-up spot in the OAA White.
This year, he’s 5-3-1 with three shutouts and has Berkley in the mix in the White again. The team was second at press time to Auburn Hills Avondale.
“He’s the best goalie I’ve coached or coached against in my 12 high school seasons,” Wloszek said. “Josh has great instincts and cuts off angles better than any high school goalie I’ve seen. He commands the defense well and makes big plays in big games on a weekly basis.”
Wloszek said his team’s defense has been strong all year, and while he estimated that his guys allow between 5-10 shots a game, he said he couldn’t think of one savable shot Shifman allowed to get past him.
A two-year captain, Shifman quickly deflected any praise.
“Really, I’ve had some great guys around me my whole career,” he said. “That’s been a big reason for the success I’ve enjoyed.”
As for the mindset a successful goalie must have?
“You have to find a way to stay mentally strong at all times,” Shifman explained. “If you get scored on, you have to let it go and not think about it. When you just play your game, that’s when you’re at your best.”
Like Wloszek, Shifman said the main goals for the rest of the fall center on a division title and then a district crown, which is something the Bears have not enjoyed for eight years.
“We’ve got a good shot to make a good run here,” Shifman said. “This is probably one of the strongest teams I’ve ever been on.”
“When you get to this part of the season and you get to the state playoffs, you’re usually talking about one-goal games that decide things,” Wloszek said. “With Josh back there, I’ll feel pretty confident in those.”