Kalas brothers help Tartan Devils to division title
When it comes to amateur soccer clubs in Western Pennsylvania, few can match the recent success of Tartan Devils Oak Avalon, as it wrapped up its fourth consecutive Greater Pittsburgh Soccer League Premier Division title.
The successful run was helped by two Norwin graduates, brothers Andy and Mike Kalas. After they played together for the Knights in high school, Andy went on to play at Pitt and Mike moved on to Cal (Pa.).
But after a few years apart, the brothers' playing paths have crossed again on the field.
“It is a thing I value,” Andy said. “It is one thing seeing him in a family setting. But it is totally different playing with him competitively.”
After topping the North Huntingdon Hammers, 4-1, in the semifinals, the Tartan Devils rolled to a 7-0 win over the Montour Kickers for the league title.
“We went into the championship knowing we had to play our game,” Mike said. “I think we came out and played some solid defense with my brother and I. The team felt whoever got the first goal would have momentum.
“Luckily, that was us.”
The season started in the spring and wrapped up Oct. 8. While the team doesn't hold practices, it can still be a challenge organizing for its Sunday showdowns.
“A lot of the guys are married and have kids and plan vacations,” Andy said. “For a lot of the games, you don't know what you have until you show up.
“But we have the strength and willingness to win and expect to win.”
In the spring, the Tartan Devils made it to the national stage of the U.S. Open Cup. It was the first time since the start of MLS in 1995 that a Western Pennsylvania amateur team qualified for the national tournament.
In the opening round, the club topped the Derby City Rovers, 4-3, in penalties after a 1-1 draw through 120 minutes. The Tartan Devils were eliminated in the next round 9-0 by Louisville, a member of the United Soccer League.
“It was amazing,” Mike said. “We competed with some very good teams who are pretty well known. Even the team we lost to made it really far. That was pretty good for an unknown team from Pittsburgh.”
It was another successful season for the Tartan Devils, who are sponsored by Piper's Pub on the South Side. And while the players are getting older, they have no intentions of slowing down anytime soon.
“We still enjoy getting out there and spending time together,”
And for however long it lasts, Mike is going to savor getting to play with his older brother again.
“Being back with him and seeing his passion for the team and his leadership, it motivates me,” Mike said. “He motivates me to go out there and stay in shape. Knowing he is still competing at this level gives me something to strive for.”
Nathan Smith is a freelance writer.