Soccer takes Woodland star around the world

Woodland soccer star Alexa Casimiro traveled to Costa Rica last February to compete with the U.S. Region 1 junior team. During the trip, Casimiro and her teammates spent some time at a daycare center in San Jose, Costa Rica. –CONTRIBUTED

Woodland soccer star Alexa Casimiro traveled to Costa Rica last February to compete with the U.S. Region 1 junior team. During the trip, Casimiro and her teammates spent some time at a daycare center in San Jose, Costa Rica. –CONTRIBUTED

These days, it isn’t easy finding Woodland Regional High School soccer star Alexa Casimiro. The sport has taken the all-state midfielder and NVL’s top senior around the world, to more places than she can remember.

Reached by cell phone over the weekend before she hit the beach in Key West, Fla., Casimiro talked about the end of one soccer journey, and the start of another.

In 2015 alone Casimiro, a holding midfielder for the U.S. Region 1 soccer team, traveled to Germany for a February tournament, and then Italy and France for an April tournament.

“I’m not sure, but we might have been in Switzerland too. Yes, I think we had a practice in Switzerland,” she said.

She’s excused. Globetrotting can overwhelm.

Early in 2016 the U.S. State Department canceled a trip to Croatia due to safety concerns, so in February the Region 1 stars traveled to Costa Rica. They played semipro women’s teams and won two games out of three against the Costa Rican junior national team.

“This past year has been amazing,” Casimiro said from Key West.

Her passport filled up, the Hawks finally won an NVL soccer championship, and most importantly, University of Connecticut women’s soccer coach Len Tsantiris made her an offer.

“He said there is a roster spot for me at UConn, if I wanted it,” Casimiro recalled.

Her answer? “Sure.”

And she was accepted into the university’s nursing program so, yes, the past 12 months have been momentous, on and off the pitch.

“Everything took off so fast. I didn’t expect to make the U.S. team,” she said of one of four national teams for promising junior players, “and then once it happened all the trips came up. The level of play was great. It was a great experience to play against girls from other countries.”

But the highlight may have been the NVL championship last fall.

“Every year we came so close,” Casimiro said. “We had played in the NVL final three times in my four years, and in the other year we made the semis.”

Twice Woodland lost the final to Watertown, but in 2015 the Hawks broke through against the Indians on a Jess Rodrigues overtime goal. Woodland’s state tourney run ended in the Class M semifinal, on PKs, against Enfield.

Casimiro has the rare talent to control a soccer game from the holding mid position.

“I hope I can bring that with me (to UConn),” she said. “I will still play in the midfield, either as an attacking or holding center-mid. As for playing time, there will be a lot of new girls, but I am optimistic.”

After a wistful week in Key West, and track season at Woodland, the soccer journey gets tougher, and better, if that is even possible.