Staten Island, NY | The College of Staten Island Athletics Department has announced their first-ever full-time hire in the sport of Women’s Soccer, appointing Brittany Casares to the position of Head Coach. Casares will step in immediately, and will have added duties as the department’s Equipment Manager beginning July 1. Casares takes over for Giuseppe Pennetti, who stepped away from the team following three-straight CUNYAC Championships and NCAA Division III National Championship Tournament appearances.
“For the past three years our women’s soccer program has advanced to the NCAA tournament, and we felt the program has the ability to be more regionally competitive with the addition of a full-time coach,” said Athletic Director Charles Gomes. “Our search committee fully believes Brittany Casares is the perfect coach to help guide our program to the next level. Her worth ethic, knowledge of the game and playing/coaching experience make her the ideal person for this position. We look forward to supporting her in the years to come.”
A New Jersey native, Casares has been active on the women’s soccer circuit for nearly a decade, beginning with an accomplished career at Montclair State University, and then coaching stops at her alma mater, high school, club, and junior college levels. She claims her transition to the College of Staten Island will be a natural one, and a perfect fit for her personality.
“This is a great opportunity and I can’t wait to get started,” she noted. “CSI has such a welcoming environment and a great family atmosphere where I feel I can really fit in. Having that strong relationship with teammates, coaches and administration is important to being a part of a successful program and I feel it is something we have here.”
Casares‘ passion for soccer developed early, and translated on the college scene at MSU, where she helped steady a team that claimed a New Jersey Athletic Conference and NCAA second-round tournament appearance in 2012, her senior season. Along the way, she claimed the Women’s Soccer Player’s Player Award in 2010-11 and was awarded MSU’s James J. Poet Sportsmanship Award her senior season. A natural midfielder, Casares always had an eye on coaching and feels her playing experience certainly has developed her coaching style.
“As a team, we learned that the most important thing was to play for one-another. We pushed ourselves so much because we were doing it for the person we were running next to. That’s an important dynamic to the way I now coach,” Casares said. “When you are a part of a culture where everyone is in it for the same reasons and trying to get better for one-another, then you are naturally going to be a stronger team and it tends to lead to success down the line.”
Casares wasted no time transitioning to the sidelines after her playing career, serving as a volunteer assistant with her alma mater for the 2013 season, assisting primarily with practice and game day preparations. The following year, Casares landed the Head Varsity Coaching position for the Mother Seton Regional High School Girls Soccer team, a position she held for three years, until 2017. There, Casares was charged with all aspects of coaching the developing program, including the implementation of a summer camp program. Alongside her duties at MSRHS, Casares was also the Head Coach of Colonia, New Jersey’s, U-11 Intensity team.
Casares parlayed her work at the youth level into her first collegiate women’s soccer head coaching position a year ago at Raritan Valley Community College in Branchburg, NJ. There, she inherited a team short on numbers and had managed just six games played the previous season, and helped the team raise both win and games played totals in her inaugural season. Casares also assumed coaching duties at Mahwah’s Sparks 07 club program this past January, furthering her experience on the youth level. The myriad of experiences have prepared her well for what she hopes will be an extended run with the Dolphins’ program.
“I think my experience has shown me soccer on all steps and performance levels, and it helps you understand the different personalities, and engagement levels there are,” she explained. “You find that the common denominator is making sure you can keep your athletes focused and committed to getting better and developing as people and athletes. As a coach you also have to be focused and committed to making your players who are at the bottom and middle of your depth chart better, while also making sure your elite players are growing and developing as well.”
Despite her busy soccer regimen, Casares continues to stay dedicated to developing her craft. She has achieved a USSF National “C” License, as well as an NSCAA Advanced National Diploma. She has lent her expertise to various camps and clinics as well, including the Army West Point Girls Soccer “Elite Camp.” It has also helped craft the way she wants her teams to conduct themselves on the pitch.
“I like possession-based, high pressure, play on the field,” she pointed out. “Playing that style forces your opponent to be quicker, which leads to mistakes and turnovers because of the high pressure. I am always looking to athletes who have a lot of character that feed into our family environment while having the technical ability to play the ball quickly, find feet in the open field, and further that possession-style of play.”
Casares feels that CSI’s pedigree as a championship-caliber program will keep the team focused on advancing to the next level, regionally and nationally. Her goals are to continue the building blocks towards a run at a national title, something that the Dolphins aren’t as far off in achieving as some may think. A balance of continued strong recruiting and elevation of gameplay will help the CSI program get there, in her opinion, and her duties as the school’s equipment manager will allow her the opportunity to work closely with the entire catalog of CSI coaches and staff and give her access that previous coaches have not been afforded.
“My overall goal has always been to be a full-time coach because it will allow me to be there for the student-athletes in whatever capacity they may need me,” Casares noted. “I think you will see the team-bonding grow and a lot of the success we will have with recruiting will be attributed to the fact that I will be here in a full-time capacity. It’s very exciting for me and for the program.”
Casares knows she and the team will need to walk before they can run. Still, she is understandably excited at the possibilities.
“The first thing we will do is build our expectations and standards for the program, reinforcing the fine culture here,” she said. “I think in the longer term we can be a team that goes deep into the NCAA Tournament. It’s been done before by teams in this region and there is no question it can be done here. I know we can do it and it will be our goal to get there.”
The College of Staten Island is currently up and running it’s modified, non-traditional, spring season, one that includes a scrimmage this weekend. The fall season commences in late-August and includes one of CSI’s most-rigorous out-of-conference schedules ever, with several nationally prominent programs on the schedule.