MVU looking for 'miracle'
How do you prepare for a team that's unbeaten, boasts a potent offense, and shares the distinction of having the stingiest defense in the league?
That's the dilemma facing Straub's Mon Valley United as they look ahead to Sunday's 6 p.m. contest at Harmarville in the Western Pennsylvania Adult Soccer Association Over-30 circuit.
"A few prayers might help," Greg Pastor, manager of the Straub's team, said with a smile. "Maybe even a novena."
Divine intervention notwithstanding, Pastor understands the task facing his club as they take on a Harmarville team that is 5-0 and has scored 21 goals while allowing only five.
"They're a solid soccer team," Pastor said. "They don't have any weaknesses and we're going to have our hands full. We'll have to be at the top of our game to have any chance against them."
Mon Valley United will carry a 1-2-2 record to the picturesque Harmarville field and is coming off a disappointing 2-0 loss to North Hills United two weeks ago.
"That one really hurt," Pastor said. "We outshot them and I thought we outplayed them in the overall picture. But we didn't outscore them and that's what counts. We can't afford to have that kind of game against Harmarville; otherwise, it will be a long evening."
Straub's and Harmarville squared off three times last year with Harmarville grinding out a 3-1 decision in the quarterfinals of the post-season playoffs.
Straub's veteran defensive unit, which has allowed only eight goals this season, will draw a stiff test from Harmarville's balanced offensive attack, which is led by veteran Chris Riding, the league's top scorer last year and who's off to a fast start this season with eight goals and four assists for 20 points.
"Chris provides our scoring punch," Andrew Bromley of Harmarville said. "But there's more than just one player making up the heart of our club."
For instance, there are guys like Bill Turner, who has 17 points (eight goals and one assist) in the WPASA's No. 2 spot behind Riding.
Goalie Jay Kapusta, the former Peters Township High and Pitt standout has allowed only five goals.
Bromley, also a key performer with two goals and an assist, said the prime reason for Harmarville's early success this season might well be attributed to experience and familiarity.
"I believe it can be linked to the fact that the core group of the team has now been together for a few years," Bromley said. "That makes a big difference; you know each other's moves very well and it's a big plus."
Harmarville, like many of the sport's other strongholds in southwestern Pennsylvania, enjoys a rich soccer heritage and that provides an added incentive for this year's Over-30 group, Bromley said.
"I'm sure it's the same thing for teams from Beadling, Dunlevy and Gallatin (where the Mon Valley United club is based); they have a storied past when it comes to soccer," Bromley said. "When some of the older Hamarville players either watch our games or discuss the game with you, it adds something to think about the history of the club."
"The current Harmar Soccer Club has been very good to our Over-30 group, so we do, indeed, take pride in the name and trying to perpetuate the Harmarville legacy."
"The majority of the Harmarville team plays in either the open or Over-40 leagues or both and the guys enjoy the on and off the field activities of the Over-30 league."
Just how much Straub's will enjoy such activities tomorrow will be contingent on how well it plays.
Holding the key to that situation if the club is at full strength will be Brian Lowe, George Watkins; Erik Agostoni, Dan Appolonia, player-coach Joe Krempasky, Rick Glover, Tim Jaki, Dave Unico, Eric Kessler, Erik Naylor, Luke Paglia, Dennis Laskey, Tim Cressman, Rick Boysen, Brett Agostoni, Ronnie Lupori and Dave Molisee. Player-coach Jeff Nartowicz remains sidelined with a knee injury.