Ex-football players Demore, Liberati help Springdale boys soccer reach PIAA quarterfinals
Jared Demore always had a knack for scoring, whether in football or soccer.
He rushed for a touchdown on his first varsity carry for Springdale as a sophomore. But then came an injury and a lesser role, followed by a decision with football teammate Mario Liberati to make a transition to the boys soccer team for their junior seasons in 2016.
“We thought we'd have more success coming here and playing soccer,” Demore said. “We thought we'd have a better opportunity to make a championship run.”
Just over a year later, that decision looks well founded. Demore and Liberati are playing significant roles for the Springdale boys soccer team, which will play a PIAA Class A quarterfinal game Saturday against District 9 champion Brockway.
Demore leads the WPIAL runner-up Dynamos (16-5-1) with 27 goals after pacing the team with 14 a season ago. Liberati anchors the right side of the defense, which has allowed 18 goals in 22 games, including 12 shutouts.
“We made a mutual decision to make a change,” Liberati said. “We both thought we could help out on the soccer team, so we talked about it one day, talked about what team gave us the best chance to make a run and do something, and that's exactly what we've accomplished. We did that this year, and hopefully we can keep it going.”
Although they didn't play varsity soccer at Springdale until last season, both Demore and Liberati had extensive club experience from their youth days. Demore developed a reputation as far back as junior high, when coaches attempted to recruit him for soccer.
“I'd walk past the soccer coaches, (and) they would always badger me about coming (and) playing soccer,” Demore said. “They came to our community games in Harmar ... they've seen me and Mario play, and they've always wanted to see us back on the soccer field.”
The football transfers stepped into the lineup almost right away and helped Springdale reach the WPIAL playoffs last season after the Dynamos missed the postseason in 2014 and '15.
“At the beginning of the season last year we did the tryouts, we did the conditioning, and the best players just started the game,” Springdale coach Cesareo Sanchez said. “They had the skills. They didn't lose the skill even though they played football, but they kept practicing. Jared (has) goal scoring, and that's what he brought to the team. Mario brings being stable on defense and working together with the rest of the team.”
What the diminutive Demore lacks in size, he makes up for in speed and ball skills. He scored both of the Dynamos' goals in their 2-0 PIAA first-round win over Windber on Tuesday. He said he worked on improving his shot after joining the soccer team.
Liberati said once he adjusted to the speed, the transition went smoothly.
“It was a different feeling, much more competitive, a lot more heart and passion,” Liberati said. “A lot more running, obviously, too. But we were able to adjust. It took me a few games to really get things, but coach Sanchez gave me a great opportunity to do that.”
Because Demore and Liberati played soccer with their Springdale teammates growing up, chemistry never became an issue for the Dynamos. The players cite that as a major reason for their current playoff run.
“I was kind of not sure at first,” Liberati said. “But now that I look back on it, I definitely made the right choice.”