Tuesday, February 9, 1999
The junior scored an ILH-By Cindy Luis
best 13 goals despite missing
three games due to injury
She's poised. She's skilled. And she's just a junior.
Forward Alisa Sato is completing her third year on the Iolani girls' varsity soccer team the same way as when Raiders' coach George-Ann Derby first spotted her: as an impact player.
Despite missing three matches during the Interscholastic League of Honolulu season with a torn ligament in her right knee, Sato finished as the league's leading scorer with 13 goals in seven games. She has deferred her surgery until after this week's state tournament on Maui, hoping to lead top-seeded Iolani (10-0-2) to its third state title and first since 1992.
"She's one of our captains and that's unusual for a junior," said Derby. "She's an outstanding player, but she's also a strong leader. She's quick, skilled and very smart.
"She's very much a team player, very positive out there. We missed that when she was out for those three games. She sees the field so well. She is our field general."
Sato is also quite a runner, finishing tied for third in the 100-yard dash at last year's state track and field championships. Although she had never participated in cross country before this year, when the Raiders needed another harrier last November, Sato was there.
She finished 21st in the state meet, completing the 2-mile run in 13:06. By placing five runners in the top 21, Iolani won its first state title with 53 points to 66 points for runner-up Kamehameha.
"That's the kind of kid she is," Derby said. "She puts her heart into everything she does.
"She's so diligent about her weight workouts and her rehab. You've got to respect her attitude and dedication."
Derby is the only soccer coach Iolani has known in the program's 16-year history. She has had many outstanding players come through the program, and the 5-foot-4 Sato is definitely among them.
"From the first time I had her on the intermediate team, I saw that spark, that love of the game," said Derby. "She has so much knowledge. She is a true student of the game."
Sato has had success at all levels since she began playing soccer more than 10 years ago. Her FC Hawaii Gold team won the under-15 title in the 1995 Escondido (Calif.) Mayor's Cup. Last summer, she was on the Leahi '80 Soccer Club under-19 team that became the first team from Hawaii to win the prestigious Nike San Diego Surf Cup.
One thing has eluded Sato: a state title. The Raiders didn't make the tournament her freshman year in 1997 and they finished fifth last year after being upset in the quarterfinal by unseeded Kapaa.
That quest begins tomorrow when Iolani takes on the winner of tonight's game between Maui and Kauai. Knee brace and all, Sato will be there.