Winding up their season in a way that couldn’t have been foreseen when they opened it with a record of 0-6-1, Coach John Kelleher’s U19 Boys “Strykers” won their final three games, including two in the Suburban Friendship League’s (SFL) Division 1 Tournament, to earn well-deserved championship trophies.
What makes their achievment remarkable is that this first-year U19 squad never played together before this season and was mistakenly assigned to the SFL’s Division 1 where older, more experienced squads are placed in pre-season seeding. Nonetheless, Kelleher’s team was competitive in every game: two of their six losses were by two goals and the other four losses by a single goal, against what turned out to three of the top four teams in SFL Division I.
Though it took a while, by the final game of the regular season the team found their rhythm, posting three consecutive victories and outscoring opponents 13-2 over those final 3 games.
Putting a team together from scratch and competing in Division 2 of U19B SFL would be a tremendous accomplishment, let alone competing in Division I. It was a remarkable effort by a coach and a team that began, as another coach put it, as “a bunch of stray cats and dogs thrown together” to battle against some purebreds, ending their season just ten weeks later as bracket Champions in Division I of the Suburban Friendship League.
Congratulations flowed to veteran coach John Kelleher, veteran Assistant Coach Bob Brennis, and the entire team. Former BRYC Commissioner Mac Squires called Coaches Kelleher and Brennis “...absolutely wonderful coaches and role models” and current Commissioner Dane Merkel told Kelleher, “More then winning is the life learning lessons of hard work and finishing what you start regardless of the early results. I am truly impressed!”