Effort to rebuild adult soccer in the area
If he had his druthers, Carl Dei Cas of Monessen would turn back the clock to a time when nearly all communities in the mid-Mon Valley had soccer teams.
Ditto for Greg Pastor and John Pastor, of Elizabeth Township, and Joe Krempasky, of Monongahela. Like Dei Cas, they are leaders of the Straub's Mon Valley United Soccer Club spearheading a passionate effort to rekindle interest in the sport and add more area teams to the lineup of adult leagues in western Pennsylvania.
“Our goal is to get the younger players in this area to field teams to compete in the Greater Pittsburgh Soccer League (GPSL) and the Western Pennsylvania Adult Soccer League (WPASL),” Dei Cas, coach of the Mon Valley United Over-40 team of the Pittsburgh Master Soccer League (PMSL), said. “We're talking about young men in their twenties and thirties who want to play organized soccer but may not be sure of how to go about forming their own team. We feel we have the experience and expertise to help them organize and manage their teams and get sponsors.”
In doing so, Greg Pastor said, Mon Valley United would enhance and advance its primary goal of perpetuating the long and storied legacy of men's soccer in this region, a history that began at the turn of the last century..
“There was a time every town in this area had soccer teams,” Pastor said. “There were clubs in Roscoe, Stockdale, Dunlevy, Charleroi, Monongahela, Van Voorhis, Gallatin, Hazel Kirk, Elizabeth, Courtney, Bentleyville, Donora, New Eagle, Monessen and West Newton, just to name a few. The men who played on those teams were among the best in western Pennsylvania. They laid the foundation for a tradition that continued for nearly 100 years, and we would like to build on that again.”
Pastor's brother John offered similar thoughts.
“Our Mon Valley United teams evolved from the great clubs in Gallatin,” John said. “Initially, we played under the Elizabeth banner and had enough players to field two teams. Players from other towns eventually came into the fold and there were some outstanding teams in the GPSL and WPASL as recently as the past 10 to 20 years. But there has been a dearth of young players the past few years and we're trying to stimulate interest and bring them back.”
The experience factor among the four men striving to do that is emphasized with credentials that show they have a combined ledger of nearly 100 years as players and/or coaches.
Dei Cas, 58, is in his third year as assistant coach of the St. Vincent College men's team. Prior to joining veteran SVC head coach Keith Harmon, a Monongahela native, Dei Cas was head men's coach at Waynesburg College for five years and was Monessen High School's girls' soccer coach from 1994 through 2004.
A graduate of West Virginia University, Dei Cas has coached youth, travel and cup soccer teams, is a member of the National Soccer Coaches Association of America and holds a United States Soccer Federation “B” License.
While at WVU he competed in soccer and wrestling for two years. After graduating from college in 1976 with a degree in civil engineering, he played for Dunlevy in the Keystone League for three years. He returned to the Redbirds in 1993. Most recently, he has played for Mon Valley United in the Pittsburgh Masters League and also in the Fayette County Independent League.
Dei Cas and the Pastors all have long histories of involvement with soccer on various levels.
John Pastor is an “elder statesman” in western Pennsylvania soccer circles. He is one of only 12 persons inducted into the Founders Clubs of PA West Soccer Association Adult Soccer and he played for PA West in five Veterans Cup national tournaments.
Krempasky, also is no stranger to adult soccer leagues in the region.
A 1984 graduate of Ringgold High School, returned to the area after playing soccer at Robert Morris and began playing for one of the two GPSL teams based in Dunlevy.
“We got to the point where most of the guys on our Dunlevy were all from Monongahela, so we decided to form our own team,” said Krempasky, who managed, coached and sponsored the newly-formed team. “Danny Appolonia was a big help in keeping everything organized.”
After nearly a decade of running that gamut, Krempasky was ready for a break.
“I just wanted to be a player again,” he said. “About that time, I ran into Ronnie Lupori of Dunlevy, whom I had known from the time we were kids playing in the Mon Valley Youth League. He told me about the Over-30 team John (Pastor) was running across the river in Gallatin. They were looking for players, so Danny, Ron Fransko and I joined them. We won the division championship in 2001.”
Pastor also noted that the Mon Valley United roster has included but not been limited to these area players over the years: Frank Pascarella, Nick Pascarella, Rick Boysen, Rick Glover, Tim Jaki, Frank Perez, Eric Agostoni, Paul Sasko, Jeff Nartowicz, Erik Naylor, T.J.Mattey, Bob Duritza, Eugene Marraccini, Brett Dolfi, Mark Tuccelli, Bill Marsich, Dennis Laskey, Lew DiBernardi, Tom Villella, Dave King, Darrin Lupori, Luke Paglia, Vince Russell, George Watkins, Joe Bosley, Jeff Soles, Chris Duda.
“That's just the tip of the iceberg,” Pastor said. “A number of our players also have come from other areas, as well as several who played for Dennis (Laskey) at California University of Pennsylvania. A number of those who have played here also have become successful coaches.”
Dei Cas agreed and said there is “still an abundance of young players” in the area.
“Most of those men came from the 80s and 90s,” he said. “But the talent developed in this area traces its roots back to the 1960s with the outstanding junior league teams coached by Dan Haywood in Dunlevy and similar teams in such places as Van Voorhis and Roscoe. When Dennis Laskey and Jack Jacobs organized the Mon Valley Youth League in the late 1970s, that was the start of the modern era of the younger players. Many of those kids became the high school standouts of the 1980s and 1990s in the Valley. Others who played key roles in the development of those players included John Conte at Ringgold, Ed Corona and Tom Villella at Charleroi. Joe Anders and Ronald Rossi in the Belle Vernon Area and Tom DeRosa and Nick Pascarella at Elizabeth Forward.”
Dei Cas said he and the others with Mon Valley United, which won the PA West championship in 2010, are eager to recruit the younger players of the past 10 to 15 years to return to the game with teams in this area.
“We know there's a good pool of players and that they want to compete,” he said. “They play in the summer league in Uniontown and we're convinced they could hold their own in the GPSL or the WPASL.”
The Greater Pittsburgh Soccer League is an Over-19 organization, an open unit with no age limits that has some 30 teams competing in two divisions. The Over-30 men play in the West Penn Adult Soccer Association, in which Mon Valley United teams enjoyed success for several years. The Pittsburgh Master Soccer League has over 20 teams in three divisions for the Over-40 player. A Pittsburgh Super masters league also exists for Over-50 players.
“We are primarily reaching out to the younger players to form teams in the GPSL or the Over-30 leagues,” he said. “But we also would be interested in anyone who wants to join the Over-40 or Over-50 teams. We will extend help to them in any way they might need it.”
Players interested in the Mon Valley United offer should contact Dei Cas at 724-797-1832 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.