Gateway's Kleya earns MVP honors in AAA all-star game
The Western Pennsylvania Soccer Coaches Association celebrated the 2012 season Saturday with a tripleheader of all-star soccer, and several local players helped make the AAA/All-State game a competitive cap to the day of action.
Gateway senior goalkeeper Nate Kleya and Plum senior forwards Matt Baleno and Shane Rings played for Team Blue in its 3-3 tie against Team Gray.
John Arnold, the boys head coach at Moon and the event's co-coordinator, said the strong talent across the board made each game fun to watch.
“A lot of the kids know each other well,” Arnold said. “They've faced each other in games for years and years and played on Cup teams together. They know each other pretty well. The coaches try to formulate some things based on who they have.”
Kleya played the second half in net, and he made seven saves to keep his team in the game.
His performance earned him Team Blue Most Valuable Player honors.
“Nate made some breakaway saves and some point-blank saves in that second half,” Gateway boys head coach Chris Duda said.
“He played very well. It was a nice way to wrap up his season. To get the MVP for his team is quite an honor.”
Team Blue led 2-1 at halftime, and Baleno had one of the goals in the first half.
“Shane and Matt did well,” Plum head coach Mike Baleno said.
“Shane played a right back position, which is a little different than the way we used him, but he was comfortable there and did a nice job. Matt played up top and in the middle and scored a nice goal. They showed they belonged there.”
Also scoring goals for Team Blue in the game were Pittsburgh Central Catholic's Torey Doaty and Ringgold's Nick Cichon.
Moon's A.J. McNary and South Park's Mike Pcholinsky each added an assist.
Hampton's Justin Carter scored a goal and added an assist to earn MVP recognition for Team Gray.
In addition to AAA players, three all-state players from AA schools took part in the game.
Kleya, Baleno and Rings earned All-Section 3 honors, while Baleno and Rings also were voted to the All-WPIAL team.
“The players possessed the ball and moved the ball well,” coach Baleno said.
“There were a lot of goals, and it was fun to watch. It is the best players in the WPIAL, so when they get together, they get back in the groove and play well.”
Twenty-seven college coaches attended the games and got a chance to see players who might become future members of their programs.
“(The coaches) said it was a lot better game than past all-star games,” Arnold said.
“Sometimes all-star games end up being an offensive battle with the two teams just kicking the ball up and down the field. But the two teams played really well. There is a lot of talent in this year's senior class.
“Thankfully, we don't have any major injuries, but the kids really get after it. They are competitors.”
Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.