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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, December 17, 2003

DeVey helped Santa Clara reach soccer's final four

By Leila Wai
Advertiser Staff Writer

When Santa Clara forward Keith DeVey launched a shot at Michigan goalkeeper and teammate Kelechi Igwe put the rebound away, it was more than just a goal.

Santa Clara forward Keith DeVey was disappointed after losing to Indiana at the College Cup. "We know we could have beaten them and been the national champions," he said.

Toy Quinn • Santa Clara media relations

"It pretty much assured us that we were going to go to the final four," DeVey said.

DeVey, a redshirt freshman from Kula, Maui, was credited with an assist in the Elite Eight game of the Men's NCAA Division I Tournament. Santa Clara beat Michigan, 3-1, on Dec. 5, to advance to the College Cup, college soccer's version of the Final Four.

"That was probably the most exciting assist I ever had," he said. "I got the ball and beat a player and was on sort of a breakaway. I took a shot but the goalie blocked it straight up in the air and another teammate ran up and headed it in."

The score had been 2-1 with just under 10 minutes remaining in the game, and Igwe's goal all but put the game out of reach for Michigan.

In the College Cup, Santa Clara played Indiana in one semifinal, and lost 1-0 in double overtime. Indiana later defeated St. John's, 2-1, to capture the national championship.

"It doesn't ease the pain. That doesn't comfort me, to know that we lost to the eventual national champions," he said. "We know we could have beaten them and been the national champions."

In 20-degree weather, "definitely the coldest I've ever played in," DeVey said that the atmosphere at MLS's Columbus Crew Stadium was "really exciting."

"It was definitely the biggest game I've ever played in," he said.

DeVey, a 2002 graduate of St. Anthony, has played in 19 games with nine starts. He finished the season with three goals and an assist for seven points.

He sat out November with a left hamstring pull, and returned to action in the tournament's Round of 16 wearing a brace.

"Any time you're not on the ball, you aren't progressing," he said. "I had to get my touch back. (The time off) wasn't good for me, but I came back fast."

To get to the College Cup, Santa Clara also beat Southern Methodist (1-0, 4-1 on penalty kicks), Loyola Marymount (1-0, OT), and Coastal Carolina (3-2, OT).

SMU features sophomore Duke Hashimoto, a 2001 graduate of Iolani from Kapolei, who had an assist in the loss. Adam Sthay, a 1999 graduate of Punahou from Honolulu, and Darin Fajota, a 2002 graduate of Maryknoll from Honolulu, play for LMU.

"It didn't really matter," DeVey said about facing other players from Hawai'i. "I didn't really know any of them."

DeVey said he knew of Hashimoto, but didn't speak to him or any of the other players from Hawai'i.

He walked on at Santa Clara last year because he said the coaches didn't know a lot about him. He said it gave him time to get adjusted to the level of college soccer and learn the ropes.

This year, there is another redshirt from Hawai'i at Santa Clara, Chad Imhoff-Sils, a 2003 graduate of Kamehameha from 'Aiea.

"We talk to each other about how different it is from Hawai'i soccer," DeVey said. "It's a lot more strict and organized (at Santa Clara)."

Besides the stresses of preparing for the College Cup, Santa Clara was in finals week. DeVey said he had to reschedule his four finals to Monday and Tuesday, giving him only one or two days to study, because the Elite Eight game was the Saturday before.

"It was kind of hectic," he said. "I did whatever I could get in. I think I did good enough (on his finals)."

He did well enough on the field, starting the final two games for the Broncos. And despite the rich tradition Indiana had in the College Cup with six national championships, he was still unhappy with the loss.

"We were equal if not better," DeVey said. "We had plenty of goal-scoring opportunities. When you get that far, any team can win it."

Note: Last year, goalkeeper Andrew Brown (Mililani '00 of Mililani) made it to the College Cup with Creighton, which lost to Stanford, 2-1 in overtime. This year, Creighton lost to St. John's, 3-2, in the Elite Eight.

Reach Leila Wai at lwai@honoluluadvertiser.com or 535-2457.