Kai does well at
Under-21 camp

Natasha Kai's first journey to the United States Soccer Federation National Under-21 Women's Team camp was a positive foray for the Hawaii Rainbow Wahine sophomore.

The striker was one of 23 players invited to the one-week camp in Carson, Calif., that ended yesterday.

"Natasha did very well. She had a good week," said U21 coach Chris Petrucelli, in his second year guiding the team.

"We do a number of physical tests when the players arrive and Natasha is at the top of the list here in the 40-yard dash and her jumping ability is the best on the team."

Kai, who led the nation is scoring last fall with 29 goals and repeated as the Western Athletic Conference player of the year, is the first Hawaii player to receive an opportunity to play for national team one step below the national women's team.

"It was a great experience. I trained on my own here and went in looking like I might be worst, but I felt I did a pretty good job," said Kai. "At first I was kind of intimidated and in the shadow of myself, but our coach told me I couldn't be afraid if I was going to play up to my ability.

"After that, I went out to prove that I can play on this level. Coach liked what he saw, asked me back and I'm grateful for that. I'm really excited to represent the state of Hawaii."

The U21 team is preparing to defend its Nordic Cup title in Ireland this summer.

"Natasha obviously lacks experience at this level, but we are going to invest in her. We are going to bring her back to the next camp (in two weeks) to give her that experience and see if we can develop her into a national team player," said Petrucelli, who is head coach of the Texas women's team.

"She is definitely part of the U21 pool. We will be picking the team that goes to the Nordic Cup in July."

In the final intrasquad match yesterday, Kai's team won 2-0. She scored the first goal on a left-footed shot off a through pass from a fellow striker.


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