Springdale boys soccer team has smooth transition to new coach Palo

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Wednesday, July 20, 2022 | 8:04 p.m


Paul Palo didn’t have to have the Springdale boys’ football players fill in their name tags when he took over as Dynamos coach earlier this year.

The Springdale graduate served eight seasons as an assistant and 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 like that was the most natural step forward,” Palo said. “I didn’t count my chickens before they hatched but working with the boys for so long it would be strange to train anywhere else. It was really tough to see Cesareo step down and I’m sure he’ll be there for some games. But I’m grateful that the school district gave me this opportunity.”

Working with team members on indoor futsal and springtime opportunities with Harmar Soccer Club, Palo said, was just the beginning of his excitement at seeing what the 2022 Dynamos can do.

“We’ve been able to maintain a comfortable level of consistency over the past few months,” Palo said. “Futsal was business as usual until I was hired. It was also tough for the guys to have a coach that they had and had heard about being off the team for so many years before they were up here. But the guys were pumped when word got out that I was hired and they worked hard.”

Palo said the energy has spread into the summer months when on-pitch training sessions are well attended.

“The guys understand what a season they can have with a lot of starters,” said Palo. “You’ve invested time. We’ve had 16 to 18 in these non-mandatory facilities and they’re looking good.”

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

He then played association football at Slippery Rock, returning to his alma mater for the 2014 season as an associate of Sanchez.

“Cesareo and I share the same philosophy,” Palo said. “We like to play a possession game and I’m really emphasizing that this year. Something could change tactically and formatively. I want to try some guys in different places and we are working on some of them.

“Also, it’s hot at the moment and we’re running pretty well, so I know they’ll be in good shape when it comes time for the pre-season training sessions. We need that in 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 secured the No. 8 for the playoffs, beating No. 9 Seton LaSalle 1-0 in the first round before beating No. 1 and eventual WPIAL runners-up Greensburg Central 4-0 in the first round Catholic fell quarterfinals.

Winchester Thurston is the defending WPIAL Tier A Champion, and the Dynamos face the Bears again in Tier 3. Eden Christian moved to Section 1 with the last WPIAL realignment.

“It’s great to have a coach who knows us so well and who we know really well,” said senior midfielder Chris Mitchell, an All-Section and All-WPIAL player who also won the All- Earned star status from Valley News Dispatch. “We already had a lot planned for the system and it brought a few new ideas with it. We definitely didn’t start from scratch.

“We also have eight starters coming back so it will be huge for us. We had a great turnout at the workouts and are really looking forward to the season.”

Also returning this season is junior forward William Lawrence, a second-team VND All-Star last year who also earned All Section and All WPIAL honors.

Springdale went 142-71-8 overall and 93-34-7 with nine playoff appearances, five section titles, a WPIAL runner-up (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 as assistant coaches, Palo said he hopes he can help continue the winning tradition of Springdale boys’ football.

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

Michael Love is a contributor to the Tribune-Review. You can contact Michael via email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

tags: Springdale

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