By HOWARD SENZELL
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Sara Tosti is now a believer in the proverb “Good things happen in threes.”
In the past four months, the 17-year-old led the Maria Carrillo High soccer team in scoring en route to the North Coast Section Division 1 title, then signed a letter of intent to play for Arizona State University next fall, and now has been selected the All-Empire large school player of the year.
“Getting the big All-Empire award makes it a perfect season,” Tosti said after learning about the honor. “I wanted my senior year to be special and that’s the way it’s turned out.
“It’s great when dreams come true.”
While life is good these days for Tosti, it took nearly 10 years of hard work to get to this point.
When she was 8, her parents, Jody and Mike, observed that their daughter had a special gift and enrolled her in the Santa Rosa United Soccer Club.
In the ensuing years, there were countless hours of practice and instruction. Also, a lot of travel and being away from home.
“From the beginning, soccer has been Sara’s passion,” Jody said. “When we saw how hard she was working to improve and how much she was enjoying herself, my husband and I decided to give her every opportunity.”
Besides playing tournaments for the United Club and school ball, Tosti also spent three years in the U.S. Olympic Development Program.
“Sara’s long-range goal was always to get a soccer scholarship to a Division I university,” Jody said. “When the offers started coming in, Sara was so excited.”
In addition to Arizona State, other schools to show interest in the 5-foot-5 forward included the University of Oregon, Long Beach State, UC Santa Barbara and North Carolina-Greensboro.
Tosti scored 34 goals and assisted on 21 others in 2011 for Carrillo. Two of her scores were in the NCS title game, which the Pumas won 5-0 over Montgomery.
Even when Tosti was a freshman, varsity coach Debra LaPrath saw that the young player was special and put her on varsity.
“Sara was one of the smartest kids I’ve coached, even as a freshman,” LaPrath said. “She possesses all the elements I want in a player. She has explosive speed, she’s strong on the ball, she’s a tactical player and, most importantly, she leads her teammates by example.
“She was a pleasure to coach, just an all-around player and the type player you dream about having on your roster.”
For Tosti, there is no offseason. She’s currently on the United Aftershocks under-19 squad. The team next plays March 23-25 in the Las Vegas College Players Showcase.
2011 ALL-EMPIRE LARGE-SCHOOL GIRLS SOCCER
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Sara Tosti, senior, Maria Carrillo, F
Sarah Andersen, junior, Santa Rosa, MF
Alyssa Anderson, senior, Montgomery, F
Lyndsey Gehring, senior, Petaluma, D
Victoria Kovatch, junior, Maria Carrillo, MF
Noelle LaPrevotte, senior, Casa Grande, MF
Belden Long, senior, Cardinal Newman, D
Katie Mohr, junior, Maria Carrillo, F
Audrey Romano, senior, Cardinal Newman, F
Kelly Schnur, senior, Montgomery, MF
Annie Studdert, senior, Sonoma Valley, MF
Emily Wilbur, senior, Sonoma Valley, GK
Samantha Barnes, junior, Windsor, D
Ashley Cella, senior, Montgomery, MF
Jackie Dutton, sophomore, Cardinal Newman, MF
Aubrey Hagens, senior, Casa Grande, F
Marian Meuse, junior, Rancho Cotate, MF
Morgan Rasmason, senior, Windsor, GK
Ali Schaffer, junior, Maria Carrillo, D
Rachel Sellner, sophomore, Maria Carrillo, D
Allyson Ward, senior, Santa Rosa, D
Katie Woodrum, junior, Montgomery, F
Hailey Young, senior, Ukiah, D
COACH OF THE YEAR
Debra LaPrath, Maria Carrillo