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

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 Miyamo-to, 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).”