Greater Allegheny building soccer teams
Achilles Vassilicos and Ashley Davis spent time on opposite sides of one of the fiercest rivalries in WPIAL girls soccer.
Now they will work together to bring the sport to Penn State Greater Allegheny.
This week the Greater Allegheny athletic department tabbed Vassilicos, the former Penn-Trafford girls soccer coach from 2006-10, and Davis, a 2004 WPIAL Class AAA finalist as a Norwin senior, as the men's and women's coaches, respectively.
They will have a year to recruit players before starting their soccer programs for the 2013-14 season.
This will be the second time in two years that Greater Allegheny will have a fledgling program in its infancy. The school added a wrestling team in 2010 that took to the mat in winter 2011.
Davis is currently an assistant at Oakland Catholic. This will be her first head coaching position.
“I'm really excited about it,” Davis said. “Obviously recruiting, because it's the first year of the team, is going to be a challenge, but I definitely think I'll be able to handle it.”
Davis played collegiately at Westminster and Pitt-Greensburg before finishing at Robert Morris. Because she is from the area and is coaching at the WPIAL Class AAA level, she will have an opportunity to see firsthand the players who will fit into her offense-first system.
What also will help is that Oakland Catholic plays most of its games in the afternoon, so she can scout the Eagles and their opponent, then head to another game in the evening to look at more prospects.
“Being from Norwin will definitely help me out a lot, and I know what kind of girls to look for,” Davis said. “I may not be able to get the top athletes, but I'm going to be able to find the hidden gem that is still very talented.”
While Davis will search among the WPIAL's finest, Vassilicos will head in a different direction and complement his local search with a more international flavor. He plans to go after students who are attending Penn State Greater Allegheny from other countries.
“I know there's a lot of foreign students, and they play soccer because the rest of the world plays it as their sport,” Vassilicos said. “But I know it's going to take a while to build the program. Will I have the players I'm going to have in a few years? Probably not, but that's what it takes.”
Vassilicos, the first coach at Central Valley after Center and Monaca merged, understands what it's like handling a neophyte program at the high school level and also spent six years as an assistant for the Carlow women's team when it started.
Having a coach who knows what he is getting into is a bonus for what can be a frustrating experience while the program grows.
“At Carlow it took six years to really get to have a competitive program,” Vassilicos said. “It's going to take time, but in the end you start to attract the better players, and that's how you build a program.”
Keith Barnes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-664-9161 Ext. 1977.