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Quaker Valley's 1996 boys soccer team inducted into WPIAL Hall of Fame

| Wednesday, June 12, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Members of the 2013 WPIAL Hall of Fame class are: (Seated from left) Bimbo Cecconi, Jack McCurry, Karen Hall (Mt. Alvernia team), Mary Ann Barth (wife of Don Barth), Elaine Sobansky-Blackhurst, Christa Harmotto, Donna Richey and Jeremy Hunter. (Standing from left) Gene Klein (Quaker Valley team), Dick Black (basketball coach of Jack Waltz), Lindy B. Lauro (daughter of Lindy Lauro), Kurt Wolfe, Sean Gilbert, Tyler Palko, Don Woodward and Jack Fullen. Missing from photo is Megan Schnur.

Being inducted into the WPIAL Hall of Fame drew alumni of the 1996 Quaker Valley boys soccer team from near and far.

Even from across the Pacific.

“Sam Chamovitz came in from Japan,” said Gene Klein, coach of the undefeated ‘96 Quakers squad. “I think we had a total of 18 guys come in from all over.”

The Quakers were honored as part of the 2013 induction ceremony last week at the Green Tree Doubletree Hotel.

Quaker Valley was one of the 17 inductions into the hall of fame, including West Allegheny grad and NFL quarterback Tyler Palko and Hopewell grad and Olympic silver medalist volleyball player Christa Harmotto.

The 1996 Quakers have two notable distinctions about their induction — they are the first soccer team named to the hall and are the first inductees from Quaker Valley.

“It was a really incredible evening,” Klein said. “It was an honor to be the first soccer team inducted into the WPIAL Hall of Fame. I think the most important thing was that I got to share it with the guys who came back.”

The 1996 squad tore through the competition en route to WPIAL and PIAA titles.

The team finished with a 26-0 record with 21 shutouts. The group also sent 13 players to play at the collegiate level.

“I don't know of many groups who can say that,” Klein said. “Some were sophomores who didn't get on the field much. But seven of the 11 starters went on to play in college and six of those were at the Division I level. And these were all guys who grew up in Sewickley. There were no exchange students or imports.”

The senior class was particularly special.

The group went 14-1 in PIAA tournament play and won three state titles. The group finished with a 92-8-5 overall record during their four years with the team.

The postseason honors received by the squad were numerous. Seniors Chris Churchill and Brad Cristof were named national All-Americans by the National Soccer Association of America.

The pair, along with senior Jobie Glessner, were selected as NCSAA All-East All-Americans.

Churchill, Cristof, Glessner and Chamovitz were named were named all-WPIAL and all-state.

Senior Joel Perkovich and Mike Norris also received all-WPAL honors.

The NSCAA named Quaker Valley the No. 1 team in the country that year and Klein the coach of the year.

“That award was for anybody in college or high school,” Klein said. “You received the award at a banquet in front of 3,000 people. It was terrific.”

Quaker Valley's success isn't limited to the 1990s. The Quakers won the 2012 WPIAL Class AA title, an accomplishment Klein is happy to see and hopes continues the strong tradition of boys soccer in the area.

“This year's WPIAL title was gratifying,” Klein said. “It was great to see that the program can still win WPIAL titles and compete at that level. Hopefully, the WPIAL title and the hall of fame inducting will inspire the younger players in the community to continue to be the best players they can be.”

Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at nsmith@tribweb.com or via Twitter @NSmith_Trib.

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