OIA softball tournament opens today
High school standings
By Dennis Anderson
Advertiser Staff Writer
Building Kahuku High Schools first championship girls soccer team was a five-year project that was truly a team effort.
It involved "the community, parents and school, working together to support these girls, a team effort all the way," coach Randy Myers said.
|Senior Natasha Kai has led Kahuku to a 9-0-0 record and the Eastern Divisions No. 1 seed in the Oahu Interscholastic Association championship tournament.
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Kahuku swept through the Oahu Interscholastic Associations Eastern Division with a 9-0-0 record to earn the divisions No. 1 seed in the OIA Championship tournament Jan. 24-Feb. 3.
Five years ago the Red Raiders were struggling to get the sixth and last berth in the OIA tournament, Myers said.
This year they have outscored league opponents 49-5.
"This year is the beginning of a payoff," for five years of development, Myers said. "We hope to have a strong program that will continue soccer as a premier girls sport in Kahuku."
It has helped to have a premier player, senior Natasha Kai, who already has accepted a scholarship from the University of Hawaii for next season. She is the only player on Oahu girl, boy, high schooler, collegian to score a goal in every game this season. She scored 18 goals, more than twice as many as any other girl in the Eastern Division.
Kai, also a state low hurdles champion, has been considered a college prospect since elementary school, "when she won all the fitness meets in the state," Myers said. But, he noted, AYSO programs on the North Shore and Kahuku-Laie have produced "a supporting cast that has gone along with her for years that people havent recognized."
|"We've been playing with and against each other for 12 years," Kahuku coach Randy Myers said, referring to his players' youth soccer roots.
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"Soccer is a team game, and weve had the defense to back up Natasha," Myers said.
Tough to score on
Players like sweeper Carly Mamizuka and stopper Anna Myers, fullbacks Jackie Camit and Jenna Bjorn, and goalkeeper Nichelle Benuska have led a defense that allowed about a goal every other game.
Helping Kai break away time and time again have been midfielders Makamae Rezantes; Savani Tolutau; Tiana Ahue, who is in the Olympic Development pool; and Krisha Kai, Natashas sister.
Rezantes stands 5 feet on her tiptoes, but Myers says she has outjumped players nine inches taller to win balls. "Weve been playing with and against each other for 12 years," Rezantes said. "Its all coming together now; were playing our game."
And then there is the addition of senior Jasmine Ladao, who transferred from Waialua in September because she needed a college-credit language course not offered at Waialua. "Shes a finisher, like Natasha," Myers said. "She steadies the team and plays all over." Ladao was the teams second leading goal scorer with six.
"One of the things we can do this year," Myers said, "is attack in many different ways, using Natasha on breakaways and finesse, or from the outside on set plays. We have diversified our attack, which makes us much more difficult to defend."
Kahuku played a 2-2 preseason tie with Mililani, which hasnt lost a regular-season Western Division game in three years.
The building of Kahuku soccer started when Chris Camit took over the program five years ago. "He had been a tennis coach and knew very little soccer, but he knew a lot about coaching and about kids," Myers said. "He pulled together five of us to assist him and took a developmental approach."
The Kahuku area didnt have the full youth soccer infrastructure like many other areas have, but "on the other hand, we have athletes out here," Myers said.
The Red Raiders worked on fundamentals and awareness of tactics, and slowly molded a team.
"We already had some very dedicated parents, such as the Kais, who were taking their kids into town for HYSA (the higher-skilled cousin of AYSO) and ODP (Olympic development) programs."
Myers, a longtime AYSO coach, took over as head coach two years ago. Camit remains on the staff, handling management details, and assistants like Glenn Fujita and Jim DePolo, who played collegiate soccer on the East Coast, also make major contributions to teaching and tactics, Myers said.
Goal is state tournament
Kahukus girls are solid, but have fun, too. Krisha Kai has perfected a somersault she does before every throw-in. Natasha has been known to do a little celebratory dance after a goal.
"If you see these girls before a game, they are silly and giddy. You think how can they possibly win?" said Myers. "But as soon as they step on the field, the game face comes on and they go hard."
Last year, when they finished second in the East, the Red Raiders were eliminated in their first game in the OIA Tournament. "This year, their goal is to make it to the stadium (Aloha Stadium, site of the state soccer tournament) for the first time," Myers said.
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