BYU defensive center midfielder Charlene Lui has not had any serious injuries in her soccer career.

After long career,
Lui belongs at BYU

Charlene Lui knew from the time she was a freshman at Punahou that her college days would be spent in Provo, Utah, attending Brigham Young.

As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Lui did not consider any other university. Even if she had not been recruited by coach Jennifer Rockwood, Lui was going to BYU.

But early in her high school career, the four-year starting midfielder for the Cougars wondered whether she was capable and talented enough to play NCAA Division I soccer.

"I had gone to Olympic Development Camp and played so badly. It was at altitude and I was out of shape. I thought, 'Oh my gosh, am I cut out to play D-I'," said Lui. "I was 5-2 and wasn't growing any more. Also, I don't play on Sundays and was losing a lot of experience not playing on Sunday."

Lui tried softball for a year at Punahou and said she was horrible. She ran track as a junior and that was OK, but soccer was her sport.

The change in attitude began after she joined the Honolulu Bulls Soccer Club soon after Phil Neddo became director of coaching.

"He was scrambling for players. I was lucky. Most players only have Coach Phil for two years, but I had him for four," said Lui. "He was very lenient about my not playing on Sunday. He told me I could play D-I."

She was on three state championship teams with the Bulls and a first-team Interscholastic League of Honolulu All-Star as a member of Punahou's league title teams in 2001 and '02 under coach Jorge Barbosa.

Lui joined the nationally ranked Cougars in 2002 and expected to be a marking back.

During the Blue & White game before the season, coach Rockwood stuck her at center mid. "She liked me there and that is where I've been ever since," said Lui. "I still didn't have as much confidence as I should have. I'm too much of a worry bug, so I told myself to just go out and play."

Lui has done that by starting 64 of 67 matches for the Cougars. From her defensive center midfield position, she has taken 47 shots, scored four goals and assisted on two. She was second-team All-Mountain West Conference as a freshman.

Lui also has been a MWC All-Academic selection each year.

A tri-captain last season, she found the responsibility to be a burden as the Cougars suffered through their first losing season (7-10-4) in the history of the program.

"I didn't know what to do about it. I'm an upperclassman and we have the worst season ever. We carried 30 players and 10 didn't make trips. They were left without any hope," said Lui. "Losing made it more unhappy. I wish I could have made more of a difference."

Rockwood hopes Lui, senior goalkeeper Ashley Smith and junior goalkeeper Natalie Evans have a tremendous influence on the young Cougar team.

In the women's soccer outlook on the BYU Web site, Rockwood said, "These three young ladies are all extremely well-rounded individuals, three of our hardest workers and three of our best role models. The impact they can have on our young players is going to be fun to watch."

Instead of naming captains, Rockwood put all the upperclassmen in charge.

"I think it is a good idea because it gives everyone responsibility," said Lui.

Lui hopes to have more scoring opportunities as the Cougars switched to a flat-back system during the spring. That allows one of the two defensive center midfielders to get involved in the attack when the opportunity arises.

She will go on a mission for a year and a half after the fall semester, then have another year and a half remaining to complete her undergraduate degree in business.

"You think high school goes fast, college just blows by you," she said. "I wish I could change places with the little Bulls players and relive that again.

"I still struggle with time management even though there are less things to get done than in high school. I thought I would have more time in the offseason, but you lift, practice and make three or four trips.

"I tweaked my left knee my freshman year in one of the best practices I had in preseason and wore a brace for a while, but I've been blessed to not have any serious injuries."

Cougars reach No Ka Oi final

Brigham Young secured a spot in the championship match of the OHANA Hotels & Resorts No Ka Oi women's soccer tournament with a win at the Waipio Peninsula Soccer Park Stadium last night.

The Cougars blanked the George Mason Patriots 4-0 and will play the Hawaii Rainbow Wahine (1-0) tomorrow at 5 p.m. for the title. The Cougars grabbed a quick lead at 6:12. Natalie Nate unloaded on a loose ball 35 yards from the goal and drove it just under the crossbar for the first score of the match. Carolyn Swenson gave BYU a 2-0 lead at 15:49 when she broke past the defense and beat George Mason goalkeeper Olivia Brown with a low shot inside the right post.

BYU exercised almost complete control of the second half with six and sometimes eight players on the attack. But, the Cougars did not dent the net until the 78:55 mark when Brooke Thurlin scored on a 33-yard blast off a set play. Jessica Harmon, a freshman defender, upped the score to 4-0 minutes later off assists from Amberlea Anderson and Annie Zwahlen.

| | |
E-mail to Sports Desk


© Honolulu Star-Bulletin -- https://archives.starbulletin.com