STATE GIRLS SOCCER
Powerhouses, upstarts will battle for crown on Maui
By Leila Wai
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Leila Wai
With teams qualifying for the girls state tournament for the first time in a while — or ever — mixed with traditional powerhouses Mililani and Pearl City, and Neighbor Island up-and-comers King Kekaulike and Konawaena, most coaches agree that the only thing known about this field is that it is truly unknown.
"I think there's a lot of parity; it's going to be an extremely competitive tournament," Mililani coach Ray Akiona said. "You have to take every team very seriously from the start."
Kamehameha coach Michele Nagamine said even teams no one knows about are threats.
"We snuck up on a lot of people, and that's how we won our first state tournament in 1995," she said. "States is a one-game-at-a-time tournament, you really can't look past the first game."
Kamehameha earned the top seed after winning the Interscholastic League of Honolulu, followed by No. 2 Mililani of the O'ahu Interscholastic Association, No. 3 King Kekaulike of the Maui Interscholastic League and No. 4 Konawaena of the Big Island Interscholastic Federation.
The following is a breakdown of schools by league:
INTERSCHOLASTIC LEAGUE OF HONOLULU
Representative: Kamehameha (11-2-0)
Analysis: The Warriors qualified for the tournament for the first time since 2000.
"Any of the ILH teams going into the state tournament is going to be tough," King Kekaulike coach Gundi Dancil said.
Kamehameha won an emotional overtime game over Punahou, 1-0, on Saturday to win the ILH, after being beaten 5-2 the previous Thursday by the Buffanblu, winners of the three previous state titles.
"Winning the ILH for us was complete and total elation. It takes a special effort to rebound from a 5-2 loss to the defending state champions," Nagamine said.
Senior forward Caycie Gusman scored a league-high 14 goals and defender Markee Nobriga patrols the back for the Warriors, who have allowed 11 goals in 13 games.
O'AHU INTERSCHOLASTIC ASSOCIATION
Representatives: Mililani (11-1-1), Kalani (8-3-3), Moanalua (10-2-1), Pearl City (10-2-1), Kaiser (8-3-2)
Analysis: "The OIA is fielding a pretty strong group of teams," Nagamine said. "Mililani, Pearl City and Moanalua are experienced."
Mililani is led by junior midfielder Stephanie Yoro, who scored 13 goals in the regular season and added two more in the OIA Tournament, including one in the championship game.
"I worry about every team, from day one," Akiona said. "My concern would be the altitude; we haven't played in those conditions. I'm not sure how that is going to affect the teams, besides the teams that have already played there."
Pearl City's Carisa Calpo (11 goals in regular season) and Megan Fuller (10) lead a Chargers' contingent that scored 60 goals in the regular season.
Moanalua, state runner-up last year, is led by All-State forward Vanessa Butin (7) and Tanya Nojiri (10), and Mari Nagamine leads a backline that allowed six goals in OIA East play.
Kamehameha's Nagamine said she worries about teams like first-time qualifier Kalani and Kaiser, which advanced to its first state tournament since 1998.
"They have very good coaches who are very passionate about the game (in Kalani's Ryan Shinkawa and Kaiser's Adolph Samuels)," she said. "When you have new teams in states who have nothing to lose, that's terrifying to me."
MAUI INTERSCHOLASTIC LEAGUE
Representatives: King Kekaulike (10-1-3), Baldwin (10-3-1)
Analysis: King Kekaulike won the MIL for the first time, and has a seven-game win streak.
Na Ali'i are led by captains Melissa Abellanida, Courtney Takushi, Sara Matsumoto and Alexa Loney.
They utilize a quick passing game, playing the ball on the ground with diagonal attacks.
"The team is buying into the system," coach Dancil said.
Baldwin is the only Neighbor Island team to win a state soccer championship, achieving the feat in 2000 and 2001.
BIG ISLAND INTERSCHOLASTIC FEDERATION
Representatives: Konawaena (15-2), Hilo (11-3), Kamehameha-Hawai'i (13-3)
Analysis: Konawaena captured the BIIF crown after beating Hilo, 1-0, in the championship game.
The Wildcats, carrying a 13-game win streak, are led by seniors Jamie Hirai and Kirstee Biven, and junior goalkeeper Marissa Minor, who led the BIIF in shutouts and least goals allowed.
"I think the girls are peaking at the right time," coach Guy Miranda said.
Hilo features All-State midfielder/forward Katrina Chong, who scored a state-high 25 goals last year. Kamehameha-Hawai'i is playing in its first state tournament.
KAUA'I INTERSCHOLASTIC FEDERATION
Representatives: Kaua'i (7-2)
Analysis: Kaua'i defeated Kapa'a, 3-2 in overtime in a playoff game to capture the KIF title.
"I've always been impressed with Kaua'i because they don't have the competition. They are playing two teams (Kapa'a and Waimea)," Nagamine said. "They come in with an intensity and fire that speaks volume about their character. They don't roll over to O'ahu teams."
Reach Leila Wai at email@example.com.