October 11, 2006

Today's game between Gonzaga and Santa Clara offers a Maui matchup

Oct. 11, 2006

This article was originally published in the Maui News.

SANTA CLARA, Calif. - For Keith DeVey, the difference is pineapples and mangos.

For Daniel Scott, it shows the sky is the limit.

For Tye Perdido, it is all about competing at the next level, at times against players he watched as a youngster.

Those three former Maui Interscholastic League soccer players will meet in an NCAA Division I game today in Spokane, Wash., when DeVey's Santa Clara University team takes on a Gonzaga unit that includes Scott and Perdido.

They will most likely find themselves on the field at the same time during the match, which begins at noon HST.

DeVey, a 2002 St. Anthony High School graduate, leads the team in points this season with nine (four goals, one assist). The fifth-year senior has 18 career goals, and was a West Coast Conference second-team selection last season after earning honorable mention the year before.

He has played in three NCAA tournaments and helped the Broncos (6-3-2, 2-1-0 WCC) to their current No. 17 ranking by Soccer America.

After being interviewed, he wrote on his blog on santaclarabroncos.com: ''I was recently asked if my high school soccer experience on Maui helped prepare me for Division I soccer. To compare the two would be comparing apples and oranges, or pineapples and mangos, for my island readers.''

Scott, a redshirt junior defender who graduated from King Kekaulike in 2003, will be charged with stopping DeVey today. Scott has been a starter for the Zags (3-5-1 overall, 0-3-0 WCC) since his freshman season and has started all nine matches this season.

Due in part to injuries - Scott redshirted last season with a groin injury, while DeVey redshirted the 2002 season as a freshman - the two have met on the field just twice in college. Each of those games were one-goal wins for Santa Clara, in 2003 and 2004.

Scott recalls a tough player on the other side of the field since their high school days.

''I do remember the matches we played in high school when I was a junior and he was a senior,'' Scott said. ''I think Keith is a great player. Inside and out, he is one of the best to come out of Maui, with his offensive abilities. Being able to go from where he was in high school to leading his team in goals in college, it is pretty amazing. He has really stepped his game up and I think he is really a great player.''

Perdido, the 2006 MIL Boy Athlete of the Year while at Sea-bury Hall, never played against DeVey in high school, but remembers him nonetheless.

''I went and watched him one time when I was in the 8th grade,'' Perdido said. ''I watched him play against Seabury Hall his senior year. I remember him dribbling down the whole field and scoring a goal. He was good. Really good.''

It is a pretty good bet that Perdido will see time against DeVey today. Perdido, the only walk-on to make the Gonzaga roster this season, has played in all nine matches, scoring a goal to go along with two assists.

''It is cool getting to play someone that I never really got a chance to play against, like

Keith,'' Perdido said. ''I have always liked the challenge of facing more mature players than me.''

While the Bulldogs will be looking to climb back toward .500 today, the Broncos will

be trying to solidify their national standing.

''The goal for our team every year is winning the national championship, and every year we believe that is a realistic goal,'' DeVey said. ''We are top 25 year in and year out. Qualifying for the NCAA tournament is not that high of a goal. We want to go much further than that.''

DeVey said he will look into pursuing professional soccer after this season.

''We'll see what my options are - I will probably go to the (Major League Soccer) combine if I am invited and we'll see how the draft goes,'' he said. ''If I am not selected, I will not try to keep pursuing that goal. I will go into the working world.''

Daniel Scott has the rest of this season and next to contemplate the same thing. His brother, 1998 Maui High graduate Zach Scott, has been a member of the Seattle Sounders for six seasons, including an A League championship run in 2005.

''He has been telling me that I can hopefully play with him in the professional ranks, but he is getting tired of waiting for me,'' Daniel Scott said.

Daniel Scott and DeVey each say that today's match shows that soccer players from Maui can excel. Both walked on and eventually earned scholarships.

''I think it shows that good athletes can come out of anywhere,'' DeVey said. ''I will say that the high school leagues and competitive club teams in California and Texas are better. Those are certainly hot spots that are obviously much more competitive. But if you are a good athlete, a good player, you will succeed.''

''It kind of goes to show that a Maui boy can make it to the next level,'' Scott said. ''I don't think there is any reason why Keith, Tye and myself couldn't play professionally. You only play soccer for a few years, so you definitely want to take it as far as you can.

''I think it is a great thing, the fact that three local boys from Maui can excel their games to the next level and prove that Maui is coming along as a soccer island. I think a lot of the credit goes to the coaching on Maui and the effort that the kids are willing to put in to get to the next level. I think it all comes down to the effort the individual wants to put in.''

In DeVey's blog he compares his well-worn uniforms at St. Anthony to the brand-new ones adidas provides the Broncos each season; he talks of a 20-minute run to an ice cream shop down the road from the Trojans' Lower Main Street campus as including a total of two minutes of actual running; he remembers sharing the St. Anthony field with the girls team during practice; and he says that while in college, his soccer team beat the track team in a running competition.

The bottom line, however, is that DeVey experienced something he will never forget as a high schooler on Maui.

''College soccer is so much more professional,'' he wrote. ''I do not intend to cast a shadow over my high school soccer experience, or the Maui Interscholastic League, because I can easily say I enjoyed the sport and the love of the game more than ever when in that environment. Some day I hope to return to Maui and coach high school soccer, so I can once again obtain that feeling of bliss and nirvana on the field.''