Eight players from Beadling U18 team to play Division I soccer
Part of the four-generation family of players and administrators for the 115-year-old Beadling Soccer Club, Denny Kohlmyer has been personally involved with the organization for more than three decades.
Beadling has established a reputation as the premier club of its kind in the area. But Kohlmyer was hard-pressed to find a collection of talent like the one poised to graduate from the program this year.
Beadling's current boys U18 became just the second team from Western Pennsylvania to win consecutive Region 1 championships and advance to nationals. The group has produced a minimum of eight Division I college players from one high school graduating class.
“I've been doing this a long time, and there's only one other team I thought could compare to the talent on this year's team,” said Kohlmyer, referring to a group about 15 years ago that included future Penn State and professional player Joe Zewe. “This team here is something special, a real cream of the crop.”
The confirmed players from the Beadling team that will play Division I soccer includes Shaler High School's Chris Brasile (University of Vermont), Montour's Nathan Dearth (Northwestern), North Allegheny's Ryan Fulton (U.S. Air Force Academy), Penn-Trafford's Matthew Loughnane (St. Francis University), Quaker Valley's Dante Piccolo (Lafayette), Westmont Hilltop's Dominic Ramirez (St. Francis University), Franklin Regional's Michael Roberge (Northwestern) and Seneca Valley's Ryan Vilella (Xavier).
Roberge has been a potent striker for Beading, Vilella and Ramierz attacking midfielders, Piccolo and Fulton also in the midfield, with Loughnane, Dearth and Brasile playing on the back line.
As the high schools of the players show, Beadling, which has its field in the South Hills communities of Bridgeville, Upper St. Clair and Southpointe, draws talent from all over.
While that's always generally been the case, the particular collection of high-end talent is one of the initial fruits of an effort to bring all of Western Pennsylvania's top players together under one club roof.
“From a club standpoint, it was our goal as a club to not just be competitive and satisfied with competing and being successful at the state level or the Western PA level,” Kohlmyer said. “It became a willingness to compete at a much higher level — the regional and national level.”
Bringing the best of the best together to play for one club team has helped the Pittsburgh area better compete against the top teams from areas such as Philadelphia, New Jersey and D.C.
But the benefits go beyond regional and national accolades and victories. The competition for playing time and prominent roles is intense, which creates a stronger desire to improve. Plus, there's no shortage of practice partners that match — or exceed — each individual player's ability level for each of the team's players go up against.
“With each set of practices and training sessions, it's the best guys just going at it and pushing each other and making each other better,” said Dave Kovalcik, who coached this age group of boys for a four-year span before recently stepping down.
Dearth and Piccolo are the lone remaining holdovers from the Beadling U12 team of six years ago. Beadling has produced dozens of future professional players and countless others who went on to play in college.
Few single teams in the more than century of the organization, however, can match the accomplishments of the group that's done it all in recent years.
“I remember way back to the beginning,” Dearth said. “It's been a ride, and Dante and I have stuck through it all.
“With all the talent around you, the coaches prepare you so you ultimately end up playing for a good college team,” Dearth added. “It definitely helps to have played on such a challenging team as this.”
Chris Adamski is a freelance writer.