Sacco Waiting For Good News

By Ann Killion

The San Diego State men's soccer team is ranked No. 18 in the country and has lost just once in the past nine games.

But that happy news isn't why the team has been making headlines.

The team has received national attention this fall because of the plight of one of its members, Morgan Sacco. Sacco and his family continue to search for Sacco's sister Aubrey, who went missing almost eighteen months ago while traveling in Nepal.

While his teammates were getting ready for the soccer season, Sacco and his parents Paul and Connie were in Nepal, going back over Aubrey's trail and trying to find new information and follow-up on past leads.

It was the first time Morgan had seen the terrain where his older sister disappeared. And while the family didn't find any answers in the Himalayas, Morgan found a new point of view on what might have happened to Aubrey.

"When we saw the area it gave us a much better perspective," he said. "It is a big tourist attraction. We met so many friendly people…And the trek she was doing was very basic, especially for someone who grew up in Colorado."

Aubrey Sacco graduated from the University of Colorado in 2009 and soon the world traveler headed off on another big adventure, to Sri Lanka and India and a trek through the Langtang National Park in Nepal. She was planning to come home in May of 2010. But after a conversation in late April, the family never heard from her again.

In May of 2010, Paul Sacco headed to Nepal with his oldest son Crofton to retrace Aubrey's steps, make contact with officials and interview locals. He met people who remembered the outgoing, bubbly Aubrey. But following up a year later, the Saccos found that some had changed their story. The family has met with officials in Katmandu, with the U.S. embassy and authorities in the Nepalese army, but they remain frustrated by what they view as bureaucratic red tape and an inability to get the kind of help they need through the U.S. State Department.

The family maintains, a website committed to their efforts. They launched a Facebook campaign to garner attention and drove a billboard through Washington, D.C., asking Secretary of State Hilary Clinton to "Hear Our Plea." A State Department spokeswoman said that Secretary Clinton is aware of the case.

"We feel helpless," Morgan said. "It makes me very upset."

Sacco and his family feel confident that Aubrey is alive. And not just because there is no physical evidence pointing to a death.

"I just feel like we would know," he said, "that we would have a gut feeling."

Sacco is a redshirt sophomore. He spent last year rehabilitating from ankle surgery. This season, he has been able to work out some of his frustrations on the field.

"Running and playing is a release for me," Sacco said.

His coach, Lev Kirshner, praised Sacco's play and said, "I think having that escape is healthy for him. He can have a distraction."

Sacco's next distraction is a game at UCLA, pitting the top two teams in the Pac-12 Conference.

Morgan's parents encouraged him to stay in school and play soccer. But throughout his ordeal Sacco has wondered if he is doing the right thing by staying at San Diego State.

"I wonder if I want to be away from my family at this moment," he said. "And from a more philosophical point of view, I think of my sister who experienced a lot of great things. And one thing I ponder is whether I'm really living life to its fullest."

For now, he is committed to staying in San Diego and playing soccer for the Aztecs.

And waiting, helplessly, for some good news.

Photo courtesy Stan Liu Photography

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