Karisa Fernandez recently wrapped up a stellar career for the Edinboro University women's soccer team.
EDINBORO — When it came to records, Karisa Fernandez fell just short. The Seneca Valley graduate recently ended her women's soccer career at Edinboro University third on the Fighting Scots' all-time list with 34 goals, second with 88 points and 20 assists. She fell three goals shy of the school's career goal-scoring mark — held by Scots' assistant coach Jamie Sallie — two points short of the Edinboro career record and one assist behind of the single-season mark in that category. And she doesn't care. “Statistics are OK to keep track of, but they've never driven me,” Fernandez said. “If I did approach a record at some point, I never knew unless a teammate happened to mention it. “I'm more about where we've brought the program over the past four years. That's what I'm most proud of.” Edinboro finished 7-11-1 — 2-10-1 in the PSAC — the year before Fernandez arrived. The Scots were 27-13-3 in league play over her final three years, including back-to-back NCAA Division II Tournament appearances. The Scots had never received an NCAA tourney berth before last year. “That's the crowning achievement for me. That's what I'll remember,” Fernandez said. Fernandez led Seneca Valley in goals and assists as the Raiders won the WPIAL championship her junior year. She was named MVP of the WPIAL Class AAA All-Star Game as a senior. Edinboro's coaches discovered her skills through the PA West Olympic Development Program, which Fernandez participated in as an under-13, under-16 and under-17 player. Sallie was a coach of one of those ODP squads. “We became very familiar with Karisa and could see she was ahead of the game,” Edinboro head coach Gary Kagiavas said. “The technical aspect of her game was so advanced. “Beyond the basic fundamentals ... the way Karisa could flick the ball, see things happening before they actually happened ... she was extraordinary.” When Fernandez opted for Edinboro, “We knew we had a four-year player,” Kagiavas said. “The talent level in ODP is amazing. The players are incredible. Karisa became that much better being exposed to that for three years.” Fernandez wound up being an all-conference player during all four years of her collegiate career. Her father, Luis Fernandez, played professional soccer in Peru. Her parents originally moved to New York City. The family relocated to the Cranberry area when Fernandez was 7 years old. “I started playing organized soccer when I was 8, but already knew a lot about the game through my father,” Fernandez said. “He's always stayed involved in soccer. There was a Spanish-speaking soccer team he always played with when we were in New York. “If not for my dad, my skills would never have developed the way they did.” It was her mother, however, who got her started in organized soccer once the family moved to Western Pennsylvania. “She'd kill me if I didn't mention that,” Fernandez said, laughing. Fernandez started all 78 games of her collegiate career, scoring seven goals on 43 shots as a freshman. “She wasn't as physically strong then as she is now,” Kagiavas said. “I remember bigger kids trying to beat up on the young freshman. We had to protect her, but she was a battler. “Karisa was steadily productive the entire time she was here.” A sports administration major, Fernandez plans to get into coaching the sport she loves. She hopes to one day coach at the college level. “My life without soccer? No way. It's in my blood now,” she said. So is her friendship with fellow SV graduate Catherine Messmer, who joined her at Edinboro. The two enjoyed team success at both places. “We've been through so much together,” Fernandez said. “That's a special bond we'll always have.”