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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Treschuk prospers after delay of game

 •  Trigg-Smith earns Ivy League award
 •  Chart: Hawai'i's division I men's soccer players on the mainland

By Leila Wai
Advertiser Staff Writer

Kenji Treschuk took the long route to college, opting to sit out the year after high school and wait for a better opportunity to play Division I soccer.

Penn State senior Kenji Treschuk spent a year in search of the perfect college. "I'm at a great university ... and I got to play soccer," he says.

Photo courtesy of Penn State

Five years later, the senior defender has helped No. 14 Penn State to a 1-0-3 record, including ties against then-No. 2 St. John's, then-No. 4 North Carolina and then-No. 6 Wake Forest.

"I'm really happy that I decided to sit out a year, because I accomplished something that I wanted to do, and I'm at a great university with a great education and I got to play soccer," the 2000 Moanalua graduate said.

He tried to gain exposure guest-playing with several Mainland teams — including taking a trip to Belgium and Holland with a team from Georgia.

"I had some options but they were from smaller schools," Treschuk said. "I wanted to go to school and play for a top-20 program."

A meeting with Penn State coach Barry Gorman gave Treschuk the opportunity he was seeking. The National Soccer Coaches Association of America held a coaching clinic in Hawai'i, with Gorman one of its instructors.

"I took the course, and you kind of play a lot, and he saw me," Treschuk said.

Recalled Gorman: "Because the course was over a week, we had a pretty good idea of what he could do."

But it didn't result in an immediate scholarship offer.

"That didn't really start the recruiting process," Gorman said. "The thoughts were how or why does a kid from Ho-nolulu, Hawai'i, end up in central Pennsylvania."

Treschuk took an unofficial recruiting visit to Penn State, decided he wanted to go there, and earned a scholarship after a freshman season in which he started 20 games.

"It's not real common, but what we find is the kids are coming in more mature, more appreciative of the benefits that go with being a student-athlete, especially at an institution like Penn State," Gorman said of athletes who sit out a year.

Treschuk's travels weren't over. The Nittany Lions took a preseason trip to Brazil last month, playing seven games in 13 days.

"It was really cool; the soccer down there is amazing," Treschuk said. "It's just like a different culture. Everywhere you go there is a soccer field."

His highlight of the trip was scoring a goal in a 4-0 win over Portuguesa de Desportos.

"I was playing left back and we won the ball at midfield and I ran a little combination with one of my teammates, Brian Devlin," Treschuk said. "I dribbled a little past half-field into open space. Five yards outside the 18, I cut the ball inside to my right foot and shot it and it went into the side netting (at the far post)."

Scoring goals is not unusual for Treschuk, who had four goals and an assist last season.

"It's big time, any time you have defenders score goals. That's a big, big positive," Gorman said.

He added that Treschuk played most of last year with a right foot injury, and had surgery to take care of a nerve compression.

Another thing Treschuk had to work on in the offseason was his temperament on the field.

"Before, I guess I would give up silly fouls that would be crucial to the game; it would put opponents in scoring opportunities," he said. "I've learned how to be a better player and make smarter choices. I hate losing so it kind of rubs off, and mistakes make me mad.

"I'm not perfect."


If you know of any Hawai'i athletes deserving of recognition, give us their names, high schools and graduation years, colleges and sports. E-mail us at: homegrown@honoluluadvertiser.com or contact Leila Wai at 535-2457.sp
Gorman says Treschuk's emotional bursts are "like any other normal youth who is naturally competitive. Sometimes the emotion and the seriousness of the moment can get to him."

However, Gorman says, "You would rather put a little bit of water on the fire, rather than have to light the fire. He has done a good job on that, in this last year especially."

Treschuk, who is majoring in psychology with a minor in kinesiology, is graduating this year. After that, he hopes to pursue professional soccer. And he won't mind traveling to do so.

"Hopefully, I can make it to an MLS combine and maybe play pro," Treschuk said. "If not, I'm thinking about maybe seeing what I can find in other pro places, maybe Europe, maybe Japan. Any kind of soccer after this would be cool."

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