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Another honor for Springdale soccer icon

Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review
Coaches (from left) Don Yannessa, Tom Sankovich, Dave Meloni and Bob Jacoby are recognized as the 2014 WPIAL Hall of Fame class is introduced at the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum on Wednesday, April 9, 2014, in Pittsburgh's Strip District.

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Top high school sports
By George Guido
Wednesday, April 16, 2014, 12:41 a.m.

Next stop for decorated soccer coach Dave Meloni — the WPIAL Hall of Fame.

Meloni, who won nine WPIAL socccer titles in a 15-year span at Springdale, will be part of this year's induction class.

This year's induction banquet will be June 6 at the Green Tree Doubletree Hotel.

“When Jim Collins called me from the WPIAL office, I was really excited,” Meloni said. “This is one of the highlights you can get in the coaching category.”

Meloni's accomplishments at Springdale are legendary.

He took advantage of the fact that many of his players were sons of Eastern European immigrants that brought their love of soccer to America as they toiled in the coal mines and factories in and around Allegheny Valley School District.

Not only did Meloni collect championships, but also he did it against schools that were much larger than Springdale. That list includes Fox Chapel, Upper St. Clair and Chartiers Valley.

Meloni also has watched soccer grow from a clubby seven teams in the WPIAL to now, where more than 100 schools sponsor boys and girls soccer.

“I think what really benefitted the sports was when it was changed from a spring sport to a fall sport in 1965,” Meloni said. “In the 1960s, some football coaches had their players use soccer as a way to stay in shape.

“Since then, you would get kids participating because they were skilled in that spot.”

Springdale won the WPIAL soccer title in the spring of 1965 then came back and won the crown later that year when soccer became a fall sport.

Meloni's Springdale teams once compiled a 72-game winning streak, which included four straight WPIAL titles from 1968-71.

The winning streak came to an end with a loss to Upper St. Clair in the WPIAL title game.

The 72 straight wins is a state record and was equalled by Duxbury, Mass., from 1981-85 for the national mark.

In the fall of 1973, Springdale won WPIAL titles in both soccer and football.

But instead of that historic streak, Meloni said he is most proud of the players he was able to help get into college.

For instance, at one time there were five Springdale graduates playing on the Alderson-Broddus College team in West Virginia.

Meloni was inducted into the A-K Valley Sports Hall of Fame in 1981 and the Pennsylvania Soccer Coaches hall in 2009.

Meloni said he is proud to see his former players inducted into the A-K hall, like Mike Fogle in 2003 and Skip Yakopec in 2004.

Chasing Pipkins

Valley's Tom Pipkins has held the WPIAL career scoring record since 1993, closing out with 2,838 points.

But could a current WPIAL player break that mark within the next two years?

Lincoln Park's Maverick Rowan finished his sophomore season with 1,484 career points.

Rowan needs 1,354 points to catch Pipkins.

Let's say Lincoln Park makes both the WPIAL and PIAA finals in each of the next two seasons — a reasonable possibility.

That would give Rowan 60 games. He would have to average 22.6 points per game to reach the Pipkins total.

Even if Lincoln Park, which will voluntarily move up to Class AA over the next two seasons, makes it short of the finals in each of those tournaments, Rowan would need 23.3 points per game to reach the record.

In Pipkins' era, teams played 24 regular season games. That number has been reduced to 22.

But Rowan's advantage comes in the postseason. Lincoln Park has played 16 postseason games in the last two years, while Pipkins played in 17 postseason games in his four years at Valley.

Barring injury or a postseason upset, Rowan has a shot.

George Guido is a Valley News Dispatch scholastic sports correspondent. His column appears Wednesdays.

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