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Well-traveled Obiri shows scoring touch for Seton LaSalle girls

| Friday, Oct. 6, 2017, 4:54 p.m.
Seton LaSalle's Mofoluke Obiri competes against Bishop Canevin in a girls soccer match Sept. 25, 2017, at Seton LaSalle.
Randy Jarosz | For the Tribune-Review
Seton LaSalle's Mofoluke Obiri competes against Bishop Canevin in a girls soccer match Sept. 25, 2017, at Seton LaSalle.
Seton LaSalle's Mofoluke Obiri competes against Bishop Canevin in a girls soccer match Sept. 25, 2017, at Seton LaSalle.
Randy Jarosz | For the Tribune-Review
Seton LaSalle's Mofoluke Obiri competes against Bishop Canevin in a girls soccer match Sept. 25, 2017, at Seton LaSalle.

Seton LaSalle soccer standout Mofoluke Obiri won't celebrate her 17th birthday until next week.

But she already is a world traveler.

Obiri, a senior forward, was born in the city of Sarnia in Ontario, Canada. When she was around 8 years old, she moved with her family to the city of Kuala in Lumpur, Malaysia, where she lived for almost two years.

“One of my favorite memories of Malaysia was during fourth grade when my class went camping on the hillside near Genting Highlands,” Obiri said. “Camping on the hills was surreal and fun. On top of that, the last morning of our trip, we ran out of food, so we were all treated to a meal at a Five-Star restaurant at the nearby resort.”

Following her stay in Malaysia, Obiri lived in Mount Pleasant, Mich., for three-and-a-half years, then moved to the Pittsburgh area prior to her freshman year at Seton LaSalle.

A common denominator behind all those years of traveling was the game of soccer.

Obiri, whose nicknamed “Mo,” grew up playing soccer.

“I've played soccer from pretty much when I learned to walk,” Obiri said. “I began by playing in the back yard with my dad and my sister, then as I grew older I joined more competitive teams. What I really enjoy about soccer is the discipline, team environment and leadership skills required to play at a high level. I've also learned priceless lessons from the best soccer coaches. They taught me how not to let losses get you sidetracked, how not to get conceited with success, and to never be complacent with where you are. Consistent practice and discipline will get you winning.

“I also love soccer because of the relationships I have gained through it. My teammates have become some of my closest friends, and it makes it more fun to play a sport that you love if you love your team.”

Veteran coach Brooke Mangis certainly is glad Obiri landed at Seton LaSalle for her high school career.

“Mo really has become an all-around great player,” Mangis said. “She is a nightmare for an opposing team's defense. She can beat you with speed; she can beat you with outside shots. She is great with the ball, she is good at shielding her defenders, and is great at turning.

“She is aggressive, and constantly pressuring defenders to make mistakes, and she can also set up her teammates. She has gotten many assists the last two years. She does a great job of making runs outside and plays great crosses into the box for her teammates to finish. That was how Liz Kittle scored against Bishop Canevin.”

Obiri is a three-year starter, four-year letter winner and the fastest athlete on the Rebels soccer team. She was an All-WPIAL and all-section selection last year, and has led the Rebels to 10 consecutive wins — the last seven via shutouts — and a 10-2 overall record this season.

“This year, when we have had a lead, we've moved her back to play midfield or defense to help secure the win,” Mangis said. “The final minutes against Bentworth, we had her mark their best player when our top defender got hurt.”

Now a resident of Peters Township, the 5-foot-7 Obiri has racked up 25 goals and 10 assists this season. Obiri has scored 68 career goals, including 49 (so far) in the past two seasons.

“I'm playing well but continue to challenge myself to a higher standard for each game,” Obiri said. “It helps that I have a good team and great coaches to help me get better. Coach Brooke is phenomenal, and has a great staff working with the team as a whole. She has been a key factor in helping me becoming a better player.”

Obiri, who is vice president and ranked eighth (4.14 GPA) in the senior class at Seton LaSalle, also competes in the Pittsburgh Riverhounds academy soccer program.

“I joined the Riverhounds in 2016 and competed last season with the U.S. Club regional title-winning team,” Obiri said. “I'll be playing on the ECNL composite team this season.”

Obiri has participated in many extracurricular activities in high school, including Rebels For Life, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and the computer, environmental and international clubs. She is a member of the National Honor Society and National English Honor Society.

Obiri also is a member of the student advisory council and is a retreat leader, and competed in track and field until this past year. She has qualified for Junior National track competition in the hurdles event.

“I have so many fond memories of high school, making it difficult to nail it down to one,” she said. “However, one of my fondest memories outside of soccer was my experience with the stage crew for the 2017 spring musical. Prior to the musical I had no experience with theatre. It was cool to see the scenes and play evolve from the backstage; it was overall just a really fun experience.”

Obiri, senior goalkeeper Kaylee Russman and senior defender Victoria Hudson are the Rebels' team captains this season.

It's a role Obiri cherishes.

“As a senior and a captain, I feel compelled to help and encourage my teammates, especially the freshmen,” she said. “This has helped me grow as a leader.”

The speedy Obiri is weighing several options — academically and athletically — at the next level.

“Mo has the potential to play in college, for sure,” Mangis said. “She is looking into Ivy League colleges, where she will focus on academics if she chooses a Division I college. She is also considering some smaller schools like CMU, Case Western, and some others where she would play soccer.”

Obiri is leaning toward a major in mechanical engineering in college.

“I am fortunate to have some good choices for college,” she said. “I am working on narrowing it down to a school that meets my needs for an engineering major and extracurricular activities.”

Ray Fisher is a freelance writer.

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