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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, December 5, 2001

Azusa's Alfiler wins NAIA soccer award

By Dennis Anderson
Advertiser Staff Writer

From a virtually unknown walk-on to the best collegiate soccer player in the nation at her level in five years.

That's the odyssey of Andrea Alfiler, a 1997 Kapa'a High graduate who was named Women's Soccer Player of the Year by the NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) on her 22nd birthday Friday.

Alfiler helped Azusa Pacific University win a national championship in 1998 and reach the NAIA final four in 1999 and this year, when the Cougars finished 17-1-1. Coaches picked her as a first-team All-American three times.

Playing center midfielder, Alfiler "dictated the pace of every game," coach Jason Surrell said. "Her toughness and presence changed the complexion of each game."

Although she was two-time Kaua'i Player of the Year for Kapa'a and was chosen for Olympic Development teams, Alfiler went unnoticed at regional ODP camps. "I don't shine in those kind of situations," she said.

Unrecruited, she picked Azusa Pacific in Southern California and walked on in 1997. By the second or third game, she was starting and has ever since.

Last year, however, she dropped out of school for "personal reasons" she does not want to talk about. "I needed a break, and I didn't know if I would go back. But in February I decided to return. I wanted to finish, and have a chance at another national championship," she said.

"Going back was a chance to start anew and grow as a person."

She led Azusa Pacific on a 17-game win streak, including nine shutouts, until a double-overtime, shootout loss in the national semifinals. Westmont (Calif.), the eventual champion, was among the teams Azusa Pacific handled during the streak.

"The coach was expecting me to be a leader, and I was, but I never try to put too much pressure on myself," she said.

In her career, Alfiler scored 22 goals and had 21 assists for 65 points. She is more proud of being assigned to defend hotshot opponent scorers.

Being on the Mainland, Alfiler says, was a good experience. "Being around different kinds of people opened my eyes and opened up my heart. It was a good Christian environment."

Alfiler has been invited to play in the Umbro Select All-Star Classic, with top college seniors from all divisions, Feb. 6-11 in Florida.

She will receive a bachelor's degree in physical education in May.