Springdale boys soccer team has smooth transition to new coach Palo

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Wednesday, July 20, 2022 | 8:04 PM


Paul Palo didn’t need to have the Springdale boys soccer players fill out name-tag stickers when he took over as the Dynamos coach earlier this year.

The Springdale graduate served eight seasons as an assistant and the JV coach under veteran Dynamos coach Cesareo Sanchez.

When Sanchez decided to step down for personal reasons after last season’s 11-win, WPIAL playoff-qualifying run, Palo put his name in the hat.

“I felt it was the most natural step forward,” Palo said. “I wasn’t counting my chickens before they hatched, but working with the guys for so long, it would be weird coaching somewhere else. It was really tough to see Cesareo step down, and I am sure he will be at a bunch of the games. But I am grateful the school district gave me this opportunity.”

Working with the team members during indoor futsal and spring opportunities with the Harmar Soccer Club, Palo said, was only the beginning of his excitement to see what the 2022 Dynamos can accomplish.

“We’ve been able to keep a nice level of consistency over the past several months,” Palo said. “It was business as usual with futsal until I was hired. It was tough for the guys, too, to have a coach they’ve had and also heard about for so many years before they were up here not be with the team anymore. But the guys were pumped up when it was announced that I was hired, and they’ve worked hard.”

Palo said the energy has extended to the summer months, when workouts on the pitch have been well-attended.

“The guys understand what kind of season they can have with a lot of starters back,” Palo said. “They’ve put in the time. We’ve had 16 to 18 at these non-mandatories, and they are looking good.”

Palo graduated from Springdale in 2009, and the Dynamos won a section title and went 16-3 his senior year.

He went on to play club soccer at Slippery Rock and made his way back to his alma mater on Sanchez’s staff for the 2014 season.

“Cesareo and I share the same kind of philosophy,” Palo said. “We like to play a possession game, and I am really stressing that this year. Tactically and formation-wise, might change a little bit. I want to try some guys out in different spots, and we’re working on some of that.

“Also, right now, it’s hot out, and we’re running pretty good, so I know they will be in good shape come time for preseason practices. That’s what we need in what should be a pretty strong section.”

Springdale finished last year 11-5-1 overall and 7-4-1 (third place) in Section 3-A behind Winchester Thurston and Eden Christian. The Dynamos earned the No. 8 seed for the playoffs and beat No. 9 Seton LaSalle, 1-0, in the first round before falling to No. 1 seed and eventual WPIAL runner-up Greensburg Central Catholic, 4-0, in the quarterfinals.

Winchester Thurston is the defending WPIAL Class A champ, and the Dynamos again will have to deal with the Bears in Section 3. Eden Christian moved to Section 1 with the latest WPIAL realignment.

“It’s great to have a coach who knows us so well and that we know really well, too,” said senior midfielder Chris Mitchell, an all-section and All-WPIAL selection who also garnered Valley News Dispatch all-star status last year. “We already had a lot in place with the system, and he’s brought a few new ideas. We definitely didn’t restart from the beginning.

“We also have eight starters coming back, so that will be huge for us. We’ve had great turnout at workouts, and we’re really excited for the season.”

Also back this season is junior forward William Lawrence, a second-team VND all-star last year who also garnered all-section and All-WPIAL accolades.

Springdale went 142-71-8 overall and 93-34-7 with nine playoff appearances, five section titles, a WPIAL runner-up finish (2017), four trips to the WPIAL semifinals and two PIAA berths in 12 seasons under Sanchez’s watch.

With veteran coach Dave Fortun and 2015 Springdale graduate Brennan Rodden in the fold as assistant coaches, Palo said he hopes he can help continue the winning tradition of Springdale boys soccer.

“These guys are ready to go for the actual season,” Palo said. “It’s tough out here when it’s this hot, but they are establishing goals, and the bottom line for them is they want to win.”

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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