‘Team First’ Key For Lady Knights On Eve Of State Soc­cer Fi­nals

MidWeek Islander (Windward Oahu) - - Windward Oahu Sports - By JACK DANILEWICZ

Cas­tle girls soc­cer head coach Mil­lie Dy­dasco wasn’t sure when the Knights last made it to the state tour­na­ment, but she knows how they did it this year.

“The girls’ un­selfish­ness is what has re­ally car­ried us,” said Dy­dasco, a for­mer pro­fes­sional player and Cas­tle stand­out her­self. “Ev­ery player is putting the team first, and that’s been the key to our suc­cess. Our sup­port also ex­tends out­side the team — from our ath­letic di­rec­tor (Laynie Sueyasu) to our par­ents, our ad­min­is­tra­tion and our as­sis­tant coaches.”

The team has high hopes for this week’s Di­vi­sion I state cham­pi­onships, af­ter al­ready post­ing an im­pres­sive 9-4 mark to date. It fin­ished fourth at the re­cent OIA Red tour­na­ment, de­feat­ing Aiea 1-0 in its first-round con­test be­fore drop­ping a pair of games to West pow­ers Mililani and Kapolei by 1-0 scores. Al­though Cas­tle was only a few plays from a bet­ter fate there, it’s been play­ing its best soc­cer of the sea­son of late, in Dy­dasco’s view.

“The Kapolei and Pearl City games were prob­a­bly the two best games we played all sea­son,” she said. “I’m ex­cited, and the girls are ex­cited as well. I’ve been very happy with our per­for­mance, our at­ti­tude and our work ethic. We’re peak­ing at the right time.”

Dy­dasco cred­ited team lead­ers Kayla Silva-Gage and Hau­nani Soares-Haae as a ma­jor rea­son Cas­tle has po­si­tioned it­self for a strong fin­ish. Both are se­nior de­fend­ers. “They are out­stand­ing cap­tains. They set the tone, the pace, the in­ten­sity level. The other girls fol­low them, and that helps us.”

Knights’ goal­keeper Brandee Lane also drew high praise from her coach. A ju­nior, Lane stood tall in net, en­abling Cas­tle to com­pile a 3-1 mark in games that went into a shootout. “She’s had an amaz­ing sea­son, and she’s one of the rea­sons why we fin­ished se­cond (in the OIA East Red).

The team also boasts stand­outs in Jayli Miyamoto, Desti­nee Hanaike and Vanessa Chi­nen.

The Di­vi­sion I state cham­pi­onships will run Wed­nes­day- Satur­day at Wai­pio Penin­sula Soc­cer Com­plex. As of press time, Dy­dasco and Cas­tle were wait­ing to hear who their first op­po­nent would be. Re­gard­less, the Knights’ em­pha­sis is more on them­selves and what they do.

Stel­lar de­fen­sive play has been one of Cas­tle’s big­gest strengths on the field.

“Without a doubt, de­fense wins cham­pi­onships and of­fense sells tick­ets,” Dy­dasco said. “The key is also hav­ing tal­ented play­ers. If you have tal­ent, speed and power, you can go a long way.”

Last week, Cas­tle was all about “rest and re­cov­ery.”

“The girls had played three games in three days (in the pre­vi­ous week’s OIA tour­na­ment), so they def­i­nitely needed to rest their bod­ies,” Dy­dasco said. “We gave them a cou­ple of days to rest, and then we were ex­pect­ing to have three hard train­ing days. On Mon­day and Tues­day, we’ll be­gin pre­par­ing (specif­i­cally for their first op­po­nent).”

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