Just For Kicks
Ryan high on Kai’s development on WNT
United States Women's National Team coach Greg Ryan was on vacation in Europe last week following the U.S. win in the Algarve Cup. His thoughts on the progress Natasha Kai has made in a year with the WNT arrived too late to be included in last Sunday's story.
"Learning to play alongside Kristine Lilly and Abby Wambach is a long process for a young player," Ryan said. "Natasha has made great progress over the past year. Her positioning and work rate on defense have improved dramatically. Her ability in the air is helping us in attack and while defending set plays. She continues to create chances and score goals, which is her strength as a player. Natasha is continuing to grow in all of these areas."
The WNT will play eight more matches before September's 2007 World Cup in China.
The Americans meet Mexico in Foxboro, Mass., on April 14 and take on Canada in Frisco, Texas, on May 12.
The 2007 FIFA Women's World Cup Send-Off Series, starts against China on June 16 in Cleveland and continues on June 23 vs. Brazil in Giants Stadium at East Rutherford, N.J.
The final four match opponent and sites have not been announced.
The U.S. women regained their No. 1 spot in the FIFA rankings on March 16. Germany, now No. 2, had been No. 1 since upsetting the U.S. in the semifinals of the 2003 World Cup.
Since then, the WNT is 60-2-12 and has not lost since Ryan took over as head coach in 2005.
No. 3 is Norway, followed by Sweden, North Korea, Denmark, France, Brazil, Japan and Canada.
» Hawaii's high school seniors continue to make commitments to colleges where they will enroll this fall and play soccer.
The Pacific Tigers in Stockton, Calif., members of the Big West Conference, have landed four players, Kylee Ah Choy (Kamehameha), a defender; Samantha Teramae (Iolani), a striker, and midfielders Natalie Wong (Mililani) and Chyanne Alejado (Kapolei).
Kim Culver (Punahou), a striker/midfielder, has opted for the Cal State Northridge Matadors, also in the Big West Conference.
Jennifer Eugenio (Kamehameha), a striker, and midfielder/striker Melissa Canits (Hanalani) who played for Pac-Five, take their talents to the Western Athletic Conference's Idaho Vandals.
Also going to the WAC is Stephanie Yoro (Mililani), a midfielder who will join the Fresno State Bulldogs this fall. She was the Oahu Interscholastic Association West Player of Year as a junior.
Iolani midfielder Nicole Ha will go to Loyola Marymount in the West Coast Conference. Punahou striker Marisa Schoen will head to the Ivy League and the Pennsylvania Quakers.
Vanessa Butin, a striker from Moanalua, and midfielders Carisa Calpo (Pearl City) and Cherise Lee (Kailua) signed with Hawaii-Hilo.
Transferring to the UHH Vulcans this fall are Kealoha Kane from Hawaii and Pearl City High graduate Kellie Sakanoi who played for Grand Canyon in 2005 and scored five goals.
Chelsea Deptula of Punahou, a defender, and Mari Punzal, a midfielder from Kamehameha, have committed to the Rainbow Wahine.
All of the above players also competed for Leahi Soccer Club and their information was provided by Scott Keopuhiwa, president of the Hawaii Youth Soccer Association.
According to Leahi and Kamehameha girls coach Michele Nagamine, players on the Leahi 89 team have been awarded athletic scholarships worth $175,000.