Making Mililani tick


POSTED: Wednesday, December 16, 2009

With the high school girls soccer season just getting under way, Mililani's Sasha Moscatello has high hopes of steering her team up the difficult road of winning a state championship.

“;Our goal is to win,”; expressed a cheerful Moscatello just prior to the start of Mililani's 2-0 win at home against Aiea last Friday.

“;We've really been playing great so far this season. Hopefully our momentum will continue on into states,”; said Moscatello, who plays the center midfield position, which allows her to take part in both offensive scoring attacks and defensive stoppages.

Moscatello, a senior, feels the lessons learned from past state tourney games will help Mililani in future performances.

“;Every year since I've been playing for Mililani we have come so close to winning states. Despite losing I must say that the experience of playing at that level has been a positive in that our team has learned so much. We now have a greater awareness of what we need to do to win big games,”; Moscatello explained.

Mililani has reached the semifinals of the Division I state tournament the last two seasons, only to lose both times to the eventual winner of the tourney.

“;I know that winning a state title will definitely be a challenge because a lot of other teams have gotten better as well. Overall, I believe our team chemistry, work ethic and the maturity of our seniors gives us an excellent chance of going all the way,”; she added.

Mililani coach Ray Akiona said he feels thankful to have a player of Sasha's status that leads by example.

“;We're very fortunate to have her on our team. She's a well-rounded individual and is constantly encouraging her teammates to do their best. I believe she is the key to our team's aspirations of advancing far in the state tournament,”; Akiona said.

In addition to Moscatello, Mililani returns forward Chelsea Miyake, defender Mari Miyashiro and goalkeeper Rosie Nakata. All four were members of last season's Star-Bulletin All-State team.

Moscatello credits her experiences of playing the last three summers in mainland tournaments as the recipe for her personal advancement in the sport. During those summer months, Moscatello played for the elite Leahi Soccer Club, which is known for doing well in mainland tournaments.

“;Playing in these tournaments is really exciting. The Hawaii girls compete so much better during the summer because we have extra time to focus on training. When we go to these tournaments we play against teams from all over,”; Moscatello said.

“;The mainland teams are usually a lot bigger than us and a lot tougher. So most of the time Hawaii competes at a disadvantage, but we usually step up our level of play and win the majority of our games.”;

The 17-year-old says playing in mainland events gave her the exposure that helped her get a combined soccer and academic scholarship to the University of the Pacific.

Moscatello, daughter of Joseph and Karen Moscatello, said the process of building a positive reputation on the soccer field takes hard work and determination.

“;When we play in these tournaments, we get a chance to showcase our skills to college coaches from around the country. That gives me extra incentive to play well because I know that getting a scholarship will depend on how well I perform,”; Moscatello said.

Moscatello indicated she would like to study sports medicine, physical therapy and nutrition.

She emphasized her parents were helpful in assisting her efforts to choose a college. She said that her parents traveled with her to various colleges where she was able to talk to coaches one-on-one about playing college soccer and course offerings.

She pointed out that college coaches began to notice her performances as early as her sophomore year. She revealed that the majority of her scouting reports mentioned that she has excellent vision when it comes to seeing plays develop.

“;A lot of my ability to execute plays comes from the fact that I have excellent vision. Because I've been playing for so long I see more of what's occurring on the field than other persons do,”; she said.