by: FILE PHOTO / Vern Uyetake, 
Tracy Hasson is getting ready for his senior year at Oregon State University and hopes his team will contend in the powerful Pac-10 Conference. Hasson hopes to continue playing after college as well either by getting looks from MLS teams or by playing overseas.

Former Lake Oswego High School soccer standout Tracy Hasson is just a few weeks away from officially beginning his final season at Oregon State University and it could prove to be the most exciting and important season in his career so far.

Hasson has made a big impact on a Beavers' team that has competed well in the always difficult Pac-10 Conference.

Acting primarily as the team's center midfielder, Hasson's role has been primarily as a distributor, setting up the team's offense while defending against runs made by the opposing squad.

It's a slightly different role than Hasson had on his team in high school.

With the Lakers, he was almost always the quickest player on the field and could routinely dribble through multiple defenders with ease. As a result, goal scoring opportunities were often the norm.

But, playing in the Pac-10, Hasson quickly discovered that weaving through defenders was a far more difficult, if not impossible task.

'I definitely had to adjust. I got batted around a bit and, when you beat someone there's always another defender right there who's backing him up,' Hasson said.

Prior to his freshman year in Corvallis, Hasson underwent ankle surgery which made for even more adjustments.

'Freshman year was a struggle and I played a lot of mind games with myself,' Hasson said.

Hasson played sporadically that season but still gained plenty of experience and, ultimately, became a much better player because of it.

'In high school, the fastest player is usually the guy who stands out. At this level, it's the player who thinks the fastest,' Hasson said.

By his sophomore year, Hasson was starting his share of games but the team struggled that year.

Hasson was a permanent starter at center midfield during his junior campaign in a year where teams were differentiated by the slimmest of margins in the Pac-10.

The Beavers finished just one tie away from ending in a tie for second place and one win away from sole possession of second place.

The Pac-10 has always featured some of the nation's top players and Hasson has had the opportunity to go against them one-on-one.

'We're playing against Olympic players and against guys who are the top pick in the MLS (Major League Soccer) draft. This is exactly what I wanted, to go to a good school and play against the best teams so I can better myself,' Hasson said.

And going to Oregon State has also given Hasson's parents the opportunity to catch the majority of his games.

Playing for a Division I team has also given Hasson a chance to travel the country.

'I couldn't ask for much more. It's been great playing all over with this team,' he said.

This year, Oregon State will have a senior dominated squad and one that is expected to find itself in the top half of the Pac-10 once again.

'It's sort of everyone's last hurrah and we hope to get into the (postseason) tournament,' Hasson said.

And Hasson will be taking on a slightly new role as well. He will be moving to right-midfield, which will allow him to utilize his trademark quickness and ingenuity.

'Now my job is to get crosses in and be creative. I think my time at center mid has given me some balance,' Hasson said.

One of the highlights of Hasson's career came this summer when he and two teammates were selected to play on an All-star team that would compete in an exhibition game against a U21 Italian club team in Eugene.

After practicing together for a week, Hasson and the rest of the team took on players who will likely be playing for Italy's World Cup squad in the coming years.

The game ended in a 2-2 tie and was sent to penalty kicks. The U.S. team made all five of their kicks, with Hasson connecting on the third. Italy missed its final attempt, giving the U.S. team the victory.

Hasson is focused on having a successful senior year with the Beavers but also has plans to continue his soccer career after college.

If he has a standout season, Hasson could receive looks from MLS teams but he is also looking into another intriguing possibility.

Hasson has filed for dual citizenship in Italy as his mother is Italian.

If he is approved, it would give Hasson a leg up on playing for an Italian team.

'Traveling has always been a part of my plans and I would love to get some try-outs and work my way up,' Hasson said.

Rules for most club teams in Italy state that they can only carry a certain number of international players but, with dual citizenship, Hasson wouldn't fall under that category and would have a better chance at making a squad.

Either way, having the chance to play professionally at a high level would be a dream come true for Hasson.

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