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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, October 10, 2001

Homegrown Report
Hawai'i women prove their worth at colleges on West Coast

By Dennis Anderson
Advertiser Staff Writer

Some recent collegiate women's soccer headlines on the West Coast:

Freshman Sarah Takekawa, a Kailua High grad, is the second-leading scorer for St. Mary’s. Coach Paul Ratcliffe says Takekawa has “a knack for scoring.”

St. Mary’s College photo

• Unbeaten St. Mary's upsets No. 6 California in overtime, climbs to 14th in national rankings.

• Oregon off to best start in history (6-2-1).

And behind the headlines: Four Hawai'i high school graduates, two of them true freshmen, and another Hawai'i native are providing offensive fireworks and building defensive walls to help fuel the unprecedented success for St. Mary's and Oregon.

At St. Mary's (in the San Francisco Bay area's eastern foothills), freshman Sarah Takekawa, four months out of Kailua High School, is the Gaels' second-leading scorer with 13 points (5 goals, 3 assists) in 10 games.

Sophomore central defender Chelsea Montero (Kamehameha 2000) of Mililani is "the heart and soul of the team," St. Mary's coach Paul Ratcliffe said.

Freshman Nicole Garbin, a Baldwin High graduate, leads Oregon in scoring.

John Giustina • University of Oregon

At Oregon, freshman Nicole Garbin, Hawai'i's high school girls Player of the Year for state champion Baldwin High the past two seasons, is the leading scorer with five goals and three assists for 13 points in nine games. She has already set a school season record with four game-winning goals.

Senior midfield defender Starr Johnson, a 1998 Punahou graduate from Kailua, is a co-captain who "provides great leadership," says assistant coach Jon Kiester.

Senior forward Chalise Baysa, who was born in Kapi'olani Hospital but grew up in Japan and Washington state, is Oregon's all-time leading scorer (60 points) and second to Garbin this season with 11 points. Her father lives in Waialua.

• • •

• St. Mary's: Sarah Takekawa says, "Honestly, I was totally unprepared for what I thought college-level play was going to be like. ... In high school, I just got the ball and made a run at the goalkeeper. In college, there is a lot more interplay and you have to have a huge amount of team chemistry, on and off the field, to attain that."

She adds: "You have to be able to read the game in college, and the pace is much faster. The hugest adjustment I've had to make is the running. I'm running all over the place ..."

Coach Paul Ratcliffe says Takekawa made the high school-to-Division I adjustment with remarkable adroitness.

"She has a knack for scoring goals ... a quick release. She gets in the box and takes a quick shot. Before anybody is ready, it'll be in the back of the net," he says.

Takekawa scored the game-winning goal in three of St. Mary's first five games.

"I'm enjoying this level of competition immensely," Takekawa says. "I'm having the best time I've ever had playing soccer."

Chelsea Montero was a midfielder all her life until this season (she started all 20 games for St. Mary's as a freshman and was all-state for Kamehameha in 1999 and 2000). She was moved to center defense this season because of another starter's injury.

"There is no doubt she is the heart and soul of the team, keeping possession, reading the game, organizing the younger players. She's young herself, but she has taken a leadership role. I can't say enough about her," coach Ratcliffe says.

No statistics are kept for defenders clearing the ball out of their territory; if there were, Montero surely would have set a record in the first half against then-sixth-ranked California Friday. She repeatedly thwarted Cal's offensive thrusts, roving from sideline to sideline punching Cal passes back upfield.

"I kind of like being in the back," Montero says. "If I organize correctly and we switch quick enough, we will be controlling play on the offensive side.

"It's very important (for a center defender) to tell people who to pick up and where to go. I'm kind of a boisterous person so it's easy for me to step into that role."

With Montero leading the defense, St. Mary's has allowed one goal (in a 4-1 victory over Hawai'i) in its last eight games.

• Oregon: Nicole Garbin says she "definitely had confidence that I could play at this level ... (but) I never dreamed of scoring all these goals and breaking the school record in game-winning goals.

Senior Starr Johnson, a Punahou School grad, is co-captain at Oregon.

John Giustina • University of Oregon

"I just wanted to get out there and have a shot at playing, then starting and then see if the goals would come."

"She's a typical Hawai'i kid; very athletic. That is one characteristic all Hawai'i kids have," says assistant coach Jon Kiester, who lettered three years at Hawai'i Pacific and was team captain in 1994. "What separates Nicole is her competitiveness and knowledge of the game."

Garbin sees "physicality (as) the biggest difference" between high school and college soccer. "The referees let you play; soccer is a contact sport. Everyone at the Division I level is pretty much strong and everyone's got good technical ability. The speed of play is a lot faster," she says.

Starr Johnson has had her own cheering section of about 10 Hawai'i students for four years at Oregon, including her roommate, Jamie Makasobe, former Pearl City player Tricia Ijima and former Kamehameha player Keely Silva. They carried a folded Hawaiian flag at the Portland game. Asked when they were going to unfurl it, they answered, "When Starr gets her first collegiate goal."

They got to wave the flag twice Sunday when career defensive player Johnson scored her first and second collegiate goals in a 4-2 victory over Portland State. "The first goal was actually a Hawaiian connection. Nicole to Chalise (Baysa) to me finishing it into the goal," Johnson said.ÊÊ

Johnson was the only freshman to start all 18 games for Oregon in 1998, but she suffered a career-threatening broken ankle in the final game of the season. "I had two surgeries and they put a plate and pins in my ankle," she says. "I was on crutches for almost six months and had to learn to walk again."

The rehabilitation "taught me to push harder" and Johnson regained her starting position last season for 19 games, won Pac-10 honorable mention and first-team Pac-10 academic honors.

Johnson said one of her goals in attending Oregon was to "prove to the Mainland that Hawai'i girls can play."

She, Garbin, Takekawa and Montero are among more than 50 women from Hawai'i on Mainland teams who certainly are doing that.