Karns City coach well-versed in team's winning tradition
Seeking a coach to continue its lengthy run of District 9 dominance in girls soccer, Karns City turned to a former player who has been part of that winning tradition.
Tracy Dailey, a 1997 Karns City graduate and former assistant with the program, takes over the program this season after the resignation of Lisa Castiglione, who had led Karns City's team for nearly a decade.
Dailey played for the Gremlins and at Slippery Rock University, where she was a teammate of Castiglione's for one year in 2000. She was an assistant with the Gremlins for one year but moved out of state with her husband before returning to the area two years ago.
“We went to Ohio, then we were in South Carolina and Virginia for a while. Twelve years later, we came back to the area. Now, I'm back to my alma mater and excited to be here,” Dailey said.
Dailey, who has three children, remained active in coaching by working with them in the youth ranks during the past seven years. She also coaches at the academy level (ages 8-11) with Butler-based club Northern Steel.
Now, she takes over a Karns City program that has won district titles in 16 of the past 19 seasons, including two straight in 2012 and '13.
“I've been (at Karns City) since May, so I haven't had too long. We started summer training June 17, and we've had decent participation. We went to a team camp in July at Edinboro, and we had 17 girls there, which was really good for me to see them play,” Dailey said.
What Dailey got to see during summer was a young team that will have to find its way after the graduation of some key seniors, including 2013 KSAC Most Valuable Player Emily Schumacher and all-conference picks Breann Wood and Caterina LoPresti.
Forward Emily LoPresti, defender Brittany Coyle and midfielder/goalkeeper LeErin Jones are the Gremlins' only seniors in 2014. LoPresti scored 45 goals as a junior, and the Karns City roster is far from bare with the return of strong underclassmen such as sophomore midfielder Megan McCartney, a 19-goal scorer as a freshman.
“We have a lot of good upcoming freshmen, too, so I think we'll be good even with all the players we lost from last year,” LoPresti said. “We have speed in the back, the front and on the outsides, so I think we're going to be solid all around.”
Last year, the Gremlins' season ended with a 6-3 loss in the PIAA Class A first round to state champion Greensburg Central Catholic. That score showed the quality of the Karns City attack, as WPIAL champ and PIAA semifinalist Shady Side Academy was the only other team to score three goals against the Centurions.
Karns City finished with a 20-1-0 record, but more important to the Gremlins than another high win total is being prepared for the postseason.
With out-of-district games against Class AA Freeport, Hickory and Slippery Rock, D-9 games against Class AA Punxsutawney and Class AAA DuBois and a scrimmage with Class AA Knoch, Karns City is trying to test itself during the regular season.
“That's the best practice for us, basically,” LoPresti said. “We go out there against those (larger) teams and work the hardest that we can and hope for a win.”
Dailey hopes that with some stronger competition, she will be able to push her current Karns City players to experience the level her own team reached in 1996, when Karns City lost 1-0 in the PIAA Class AA semifinals to that year's champion, Villa Joseph Marie.
“Unfortunately, we don't always see the greatest level of competition in our regular season. We want to take care of all the little things we can to be ready for the postseason,” Dailey said. “My ultimate goal is a state championship. My senior year for Karns City, we reached the state semifinals, so I'd love to be able take that one step further.”