Coming off four years at the University of North Carolina, forward Kealia Ohai is next headed for the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL).
Prior to suiting up in Carolina Blue, the Draper, Utah native attended Alta High School in Sandy, Utah where she could be found on both the soccer field and the track.
A four-year varsity soccer player and a three-year track athlete, Ohai earned numerous awards for her extreme athleticism, including the Gatorade Utah Girls Soccer Player of the Year Award… twice.
Coached by Lee Mitchell, Ohai led Alta to four straight state championships (2006-09) and was even awarded the NSCAA’s National High School Player of the Year Award in 2010.
“I’m a little biased, but I think she’s the best girl soccer player [and even] female athlete that’s come out of the state of Utah,” Mitchell said, prior to Ohai’s departure from Alta.
Traveling 2,100 miles eastbound in 2010, Ohai began her collegiate career under Anson Dorrance and the most successful collegiate women’s soccer program.
Her freshman season drew much success, with the then-18-year-old starting in 22 of the 24 games she played, while racking up 14 goals and nine assists.
While Ohai’s sophomore season at Chapel Hill saw her playing in—and starting—20 games, she only found the back of the net six times, while also giving her teammates six assists.
Before returning to North Carolina for her junior season, Ohai was selected by then-U-20 coach Steve Swanson as part of his roster for the 2012 FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup.
Throughout the tournament, Ohai played in all six games, starting in five, and recorded two goals, including the most important goal the United States scored.
After receiving a 3-0 beating by the Germans in the group stage, the United States got its revenge in the championship match, where a first half goal by Ohai made the difference.
“When I scored, it truly felt like a movie or something,” Ohai said of her winning goal. “It could not have been more magical.”
Ohai’s goal, a 12-yard shot into the top left corner, was created, and assisted, by her Tar Heel teammate Crystal Dunn.
Returning to North Carolina, Ohai’s junior season ended with the forward scoring nine goals in 17 games. Of those nine goals, her last was arguably her most important.
In the 2012 College Cup championship match against Penn State University, Ohai scored the opening goal for the Tar Heels, who defeated the Nittany Lions 4-1 to bring Chapel Hill its 22nd national championship.
Throughout her senior season, the forward added 11 goals and six assists to her name, totaling her goals to 40 and her assists to 26 for the Tar Heels.
Just one month ago, Ohai received the prestigious 2013 Senior CLASS Award. The award, chosen by a vote of Division I women’s soccer coaches, national soccer media and fans is given annually to the most-outstanding senior student-athlete in Division I women’s soccer.
“[Kealia] has represented this university and our soccer program at a high level for four years and her receiving this award is a tremendous statement about what kind of person she is,” said Dorrance on Ohai winning the award.
Ohai winning numerous accolades throughout her career is impressive, especially when you consider how she did it.
Speaking to The Daily Tar Heel, Ohai revealed having a condition that limits the vision in her right eye.
“I think the biggest thing is depth perception,” she said. “Sometimes when the ball is coming to me, or being crossed, I can’t see how close it is. But I think I’ve just gotten used to it.”
While many may consider it a hindrance, Ohai doesn’t want her vision to be the topic of her game.
And with the second annual NWSL College Draft just one week away, Ohai aspires to reach the professional level, even aiming for a shot on the senior U.S. women’s national team.
“[The youth international level] has been a really good experience to try to prepare myself for later down the road,” Ohai said. “I want to take the next steps in soccer, and it’s an experience like nothing you could have with college or club.”