The Diocese of Pittsburgh Soccer League (DSL) is open to the Catholic Elementary schools in the Diocese of Pittsburgh. If a school does not have enough players to have a team or an entire program, then the players can play for another school’s team as long as both schools are in the same deanery. The underlying spirit of the League is participation and inclusion. However, it is important that schools try to develop their own school program. Also, schools are discouraged from recruiting from other schools. The DSL plays by PA West and NFHS rules. The DSL has a “DSL Rule Book” which outlines the DSL and it’s operation (much of which will be discussed herein). The Rule Book can be found on the DSL website which is www.leaguelineup.com\dsl. The governing body of the League is the Catholic Schools Office of the Diocese of Pittsburgh. Dr. Ron Bowes is the Assistant Superintendent for Public Policy and Development and i2 responsible for all athletic programs. Mitch Riehle is the Director of the Diocese Soccer League
The DSL plays two seasons – Fall and Spring. The dates of the seasons basically coincide with PA West. The Fall season runs from the first weekend in September to the last weekend in October. The Fall playoff Tournament is the first weekend in November. The Spring season runs from the first weekend in April (sometimes the last weekend in March) to the last weekend in May. The Spring playoff Tournament in the first weekend in June.
Each team plays eight (8) games – four home and four away. A team’s home games are played on whatever day that they have field availability. Most teams play on Saturday, some on Sunday, and a select few teams play on Thursday or Friday evening. The primary rule is that games cannot start before 12:00 noon on Sunday. In an ideal word, a team would have one game every weekend. However, due to field availability and schedule requests by the schools, some teams play two games on a weekend.
The DSL is co-ed and is organized into three (3) Divisions:
- Developmental (2nd, 3rd and 4th Grade)
- Junior Varsity (JV) (5th and 6th grade)
- Varsity (7th and 8th grade)
The Developmental Division is considered to be instructional and thus scores and standings are not kept. The Developmental Division has two sections – an 8 v 8 section and an 11 v 11 section. Teams are encouraged to play 8 v 8 where possible. For example, if a school has 20 developmental players, they are encouraged to play two (2) teams of 8 v 8. The Developmental Division is also organized by geography – for example 8 v 8 North, 8 v 8 South, 11 v 11 North, 11 v 11 South, etc. The 8 v 8 section plays 25 minute halves and the 11 v 11 division plays 30 minutes halves.
The JV and Varsity Divisions are competitive divisions and are organized in the same fashion which is in Sections. There are 4 Sections in the Fall and 5 Sections in the Spring (the League has less teams in the Fall due to football). The Sections are organized by “strength of program” and change every season. Specifically, strength of program is calculated by combining the JV and Varsity records, assigning points, and multiplying by a factor to come up with a final number. Teams are moved up and moved down every Season and can only move one section. The most competitive section is Section 1 and the least competitive section is Section 5. A new program always enters the League in Section 5.
As mentioned, the Fall and Spring Tournaments are held on the first weekend in November and the first weekend in June, respectively from Wednesday evening through Sunday. The Tournament is announced as a location is secured. Recently we have played at the Highmark Stadium in Pittsburgh and in North Park in the North Hills. There are JV and/or Varsity games on Wednesday-Friday evening and all day Saturday. The Championship games are held on Sunday. Each Championship game has a pre-game ceremony and a post-game awards ceremony. The Developmental Tournament is an invitational event where all teams can participate and is played on a single day (typically Saturday). The Developmental Tournament also features an awards ceremony for the semi-final teams. The cost of the Tournament is $100 per team. In the Fall, there are fewer teams that make the Tournament due to less daylight. For planning purposes, the Top 2 teams from each Section make the playoffs in the Fall and the top 3 teams in the Spring.
Meetings, Administration and Fees
The DSL strives to have an organized and administratively simple organization. For the last couple of years, registration has been done through email/mail by the 3rd week of July and February, respectively. The current (2012) fees are $100 per JV and Varsity team and $75 per Developmental Team. Checks should be payable to the Diocese of Pittsburgh.
Within 2-3 weeks of the close of registration, we typically have a teleconference to kick off the season. Ahead of this meeting, the DSL distributes the game schedule for the season for all Sections. There should be one coach per team attend the teleconference to help us to sort out any scheduling conflicts.
The DSL schedules all referees however if there is a game cancellation, the schools are responsible to reschedule the game and coordinate the referees. One important rule is that games can only be cancelled and rescheduled due to weather and due to Diocesan and Schools events. Although the DSL encourages players to play on Traveling and Cup teams, DSL games cannot be rescheduled due to not having enough players because of other games. Prior to the season start, teams must also turn in a Roster. The roster must be signed by a pastor or principal verifying that all players go to that school and are in the grades listed.
The home teams are responsible for paying for referees. The fee is $45 per ref per game for two referees so a team ref fees for a season would total $360. Teams are also responsible to have two Game Cards for every game – one for the opponent and one for the referee. After the game, the winning team is responsible for sending the scanned games cards via e-mail or US mail.
Also, all directions to all fields are available on the DSL website. For planning purposes, the total cost per season for a team would be $560 ($100 Registration + $360 ref fees + $100 playoffs)