Tuesday, January 30, 2001
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Posted on: Tuesday, January 30, 2001

Worth his weight in goal

By Dennis Anderson
Advertiser Staff Writer

Picture this:

After an hour and 40 minutes of scoreless soccer, including two sudden-death overtimes, your team is going into a shootout.

"I only went out for soccer to keep in shape for football," said Kawika Ishikawa, who saved the Sabers Saturday night.

Gregory Yamamoto • The Honolulu Advertiser

Each team’s five best shooters will take turns kicking at the other’s goal from 12 yards away, with only a goalkeeper defending a space 8 yards wide by 8 feet high.

At stake is the first trip to your league’s final four and the first berth in the state tournament in your school’s boys soccer history. Hundreds of spectators are screaming with every shot.

And the 11th-grade goalkeeper upon whose shoulders all this pressure falls is a 5-foot-11, 260-pound football defensive end who has never played soccer before this season.

That was the picture confronting Campbell High late Saturday night. Fourth-seeded in the Oahu Interscholastic Association’s Western Division, the Sabers had reached the second round of the OIA Championship Tournament for the first time ever and played Eastern Division champion Castle to a standstill on Castle’s field for 100 minutes.

Now it was up to Kawika Ishikawa, one of several football players recruited to the Campbell soccer team by new coach Frank Marotti. "I kinda didn’t want it to happen ... all on me to win the game," Ishikawa said the next day. "I only went out for soccer to keep in shape for football."

The first Castle shooter pushed the ball to the right. "He was looking the other way, trying to make me think he was going left, and I went before he kicked the ball," said Ishikawa, who got all of his massive body in front of the kick and caught the ball in his hands.

Campbell’s first kicker, Kenji Lee, scored.

In the second round of kicks, Ishikawa made the same guess, but this time he was wrong and Blaine Fujimoto’s kick whistled into the upper left of the goal. Campbell’s Michael Ryman made his try, too.

Third round. "I had a feeling he was going left and I committed, but the ball went straight," Ishikawa said.

What happened next was like watching US National Team goalkeeper Tony Meola, coach Marotti said. "Kawika was laid out, about six inches off the ground, headed left and the guy hit a rocket down the middle."

Cheers to you

At the last nanosecond, still diving the wrong way, Ishikawa lifted his right foot, the ball hit it and caromed away from the goal.

"What to do comes to you at the moment," Ishikawa said. "Everybody is so hyped ... if you lose it’s going to be all your fault so you try to do what you’ve got to do to win."

Taisei Lee and Chris Kita made their kicks to give Campbell a 4-2 shootout victory.

"I’ve never heard cheers just for me before," Ishikawa said. "I thank Jesus, he gave me the strength and the will."

Campbell (8-2-1) makes its final four debut tomorrow against defending OIA champion Mililani (8-1-1) at 7 p.m. at Mililani. Pearl City (10-0-0) meets Aiea (9-2-0) at 5:15 at Mililani in the first game of the all-Western Division OIA semifinals.

The emergence of boys soccer in Ewa Beach started when Marotti, who has coached three sectional and 10 league champions in the San Jose, Calif., area, was convinced to take over the program.

"I didn’t know if my style would fit in with the kids over here, but the kids bought into the program and they’ve done it all," he said.

Marotti is defensive coordinator of the Campbell football team and he tried to recruit 15 football players. Four stuck it out.

"We had no goalkeeper so I tried to recruit an athlete," Marotti said. "During football I saw that Kawika had great hands, like a tight end. But I honestly never thought he would see the field in soccer.

"I don’t care who you are, to stop two penalty kicks against a good team is a hell of an accomplishment."

Campbell has shut out seven of 11 opponents.

Another football player, 300-pound offensive lineman T.J. Faumuina, has also been an unusual presence on the soccer field. "He probably leads the OIA in blocked shots off his chest," Marotti said.

Others who helped Campbell reach the playoffs for only the second time in school history have been Mike Ryman, second leading scorer in the OIA West with 15 goals; sophomore Brian Jepsen, a 5-7, 135-pound sparkplug at left back; and sophomore sweeper Shaunsey Saito, whom Marotti calls a Division I college prospect.

Ishikawa said football is still his favorite sport, but if he were offered college scholarships for both football and soccer next year, "I might just pick soccer instead."

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