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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Wednesday, November 6, 2002

UH's Kai named WAC soccer Player of the Year

By Leila Wai
Special to The Advertiser

Freshman Natasha Kai, a 2001 Kahuku High graduate, set UH records with 16 goals, 37 points and 102 shots.

Eugene Tanner The Honolulu Advertiser

For University of Hawai'i women's soccer player Natasha Kai, the wait was worth it.

Kai, who set league and school records in her first season, was rewarded by Western Athletic Conference coaches with Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year honors.

Kai, a 2001 graduate of Kahuku High School, decided to take a year off from school and soccer last year.

"I was getting sick of soccer from high school," Kai said in a telephone interview from Houston.

"It (not playing) made me really miss playing soccer and when I came back I played my game and was having fun."

Kai set two single-season WAC records with 10 goals and 23 points in conference play. She also shattered school records, setting the mark of 16 goals, 37 points and 102 shots in a season to break junior Arlene Devitt's records of 12, 29 and 67 set last season.

"It feels good because our team worked hard to get this far and good things came out of it," Kai said.

Kai was named the WAC Player of the Week three times (Sept. 3, Oct. 14 and Oct. 28) and became the first Rainbow Wahine to be selected to the Soccer Buzz National Team of the Week (Oct. 29).

"She's got extraordinary speed, which we are always looking to exploit," said Hawai'i coach Pinsoom Tenzing, whose team is preparing for the WAC Tournament starting tomorrow in Houston.

"And I think it's worked more often than not," Tenzing added. "She's going to continue improving as a player because she is hungry for knowledge and she is a very coachable kid; I expect grand things from her in the future."

Senior Erin Quattromani, a transfer from Stanford, joins Kai on the first team, after setting a WAC record for assists with seven in conference play. Her nine assists overall set a school single-season record.

"I think that she really helped our team out," Kai said. "Her passing is perfect, and she has good judgment on the field."

Kai and Quattromani teamed for an overtime goal Sunday against Fresno State in a 1-0 win that clinched the third seed for the WAC tournament. Hawai'i (10-7-2, 6-2) plays sixth-seeded Rice at 3:30 p.m. Hawai'i time tomorrow.

Devitt, a preseason All-WAC pick and 2001 first-team selection, senior defender Noelle Takemoto and freshman goalkeeper Mahie Atay were named to the second team.

Hawai'i's five selections were a school best.

Fresno State's Erin Sayegusa, a 2000 Kaiser High graduate from Honolulu, was named to the second team. She helped spark a five-game winning streak with game-winning goals against Texas-El Paso, Boise State and Cal State Fullerton.

WAC regular-season champion Southern Methodist placed six players on the first team, including last season's Player of the Year Tara Comfort. Kevin Cross was named Coach of the Year after guiding UTEP to a runner-up finish and a 15-2 record, 6-2 in conference play.