Knights’ Soccer Pressure: Trying To Top Last Year’s Record

Returning to Division I girls high school soccer last season means a new challenge for Castle in maintaining upward mobility.

But head coach Millie Dydasco put the 2013-14 season firmly in the past when Castle began conditioning for this season.

“Last year is over,” said Dydasco, a former soccer pro and Castle standout during her own playing days. “We’re here to move forward, and hopefully the girls can bring it again this season.”

Indeed, last year was memorable, as Castle won its first seven games en route to an 8-2 season in the ultra-competitive OIA East. It went on to finish fourth at the OIA Red tourney, including a win over eventual state runner-up Aiea, in a first-round contest. Castle finished 10-5-1 overall and qualified for the Division I state championships — a first for the program in several years.

This time around, Dydasco builds on a solid corps of returnees, highlighted by senior captains Brandee Lane and Jayli Miyamoto. Lane was one of the state’s top goalkeepers a year ago, while Miyamoto was a midfield anchor.

“They’re similar — they don’t talk much, but work hard, and they’re respected by their team-mates for the work they put in.”

“Jayli leads by example and has trained really hard throughout the summer to improve. She’s really excited about this season. Our success last season was a collective team effort. Everybody worked hard, but Brandee was very instrumental as well with her great play in goal.”

Few teams were better in the clutch last year, to be sure. The Knights went 3-1 in games decided by shootouts, but this time Castle and OIA counterparts must take care of business in regulation time, as shoot-outs were eliminated during the off-season.

“The shootouts were what really propelled us into second place,” Dydasco said. “This year, we’ll have to solidify a win (earlier).”

Also welcomed back are key players in junior forward Vanessa Chinen, junior utility player Destinee Hanaike and senior defender Alyssa Tanigawa.

“Vanessa is a standout forward who has size and plays with a lot of hustle. She’s very powerful and has been that way since she joined the varsity as a freshman.

“We can put Destinee anywhere, and I know she’ll get the job done,” Dydasco added. “She always steps up to the challenge. She’s a little player who always plays big.

“Alyssa is an outstanding defender. She can mark anyone and stay with anyone. She’s solid. She rarely loses a battle.”

One priority of preseason camp will be trying to compensate for the loss of defensive standout Kayla Silva-Gage, who completed her eligibility. “I’m sure we have some players itching to follow in her footsteps,” Dydasco said.

Castle’s public unveiling is set for next weekend when it co-hosts the Castle-Leilehua Pre-Season Tournament. The Knights will meet Konawaena in their first-round game at home Nov. 19. Castle also will play a home game Friday against a team to be determined. Saturday’s action shifts to Leilehua for the championship round.

The Knights also will play in the Konawaena Pre-Season Tournament over Thanksgiving weekend, before opening OIA East play in the first week of December.