It's tournament time for OIA boys, girls
By Leila Wai
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Leila Wai
Twenty-four teams — 12 boys and 12 girls — begin play in the O'ahu Interscholastic Association soccer tournaments with first-round and quarterfinal games this week.
Eight teams received first-round byes as the top boys and girls seeds from the Eastern and Western divisions.
The West dominated the OIA in recent years, with a West boys team winning the past seven titles, and a West girls team winning the past five.
"I think the East is well balanced, the top three or four teams," Moanalua boys coach Spencer Machado said. "But the West is the same as the East. I don't see anyone coming from the bottom, sneaking up there."
The top five finishers, both boys and girls, receive berths into the state tournament. The OIA champions earn first-round byes.
Kapolei is the only team with no losses or ties, scoring 41 goals and allowing five. Senior Drew Geis and junior Curtis Kiyabu scored nine goals apiece, as the Hurricanes claimed the West outright for the first time after sharing the title with Mililani last season.
"The team to beat is probably Kapolei," Machado said. "But anything can happen."
Mililani, four-time defending OIA champion and winner of six of the past seven, did not finish in first place for the first time since 2002. The Trojans, with junior Kelsey Kikugawa scoring a division-high 10 goals, are always a threat.
"They always bring it during playoffs," Kapolei coach Bryce Kaneshiro said.
Leilehua had a strong season last year, finishing in second place in the OIA Tournament. The Mules continued their run this season, led by Syd Tom's seven goals and the midfield play of Daniel Phelps.
"They're still strong, we just got by them," Kaneshiro said.
Leilehua and Pearl City tied for third, but the Mules earned the third seed on a coin flip. The Chargers' strength is their defense, which allowed a league-low three goals.
'Aiea's Mark Atta scored seven goals, and Waialua was the surprise of the season, tying Mililani 2-2 and losing to Pearl City to 1-0.
Moanalua is the East's top seed for the second time in three years. Na Menehune outscored opponents 26-4, and are led by Kenneth Ogata's seven goals.
"Moanalua has a lot of talent," Kaneshiro said. "You don't finish high without doing something good."
Kalaheo is the last East team to win the OIA, winning in 1998. Senior forward Stuart Aiu led the league with 18 goals for the Mustangs, who scored a division-high 27 goals to nine goals allowed.
"I don't know too much about the East," Kaneshiro said. "We're aware of certain players, like Aiu from Kalaheo, or (Matthew) Bush from Kaiser."
Kaiser's Bush is second in the division with eight goals, and defender Kyle Niiro has six. The Cougars' defense tied the division-low with four goals allowed.
"Kaiser, they always step it up in the playoffs," Kaneshiro said. "They eliminated us last year, I didn't forget that."
Kalani had a strong year, upsetting Moanalua and tying Kalaheo. It is led by freshman midfielder Danny Higa, who scored seven goals and is a focal point of the team's offense.
Castle broke its streak of finishing in the top two for seven straight years, and Roosevelt secured the sixth seed after finishing first last season.
Pearl City won the West for the third time in four years, using a platoon system for its numerous offensive players.
"We should be there; we've played really well," Pearl City co-head coach Frank Baumholtz said of the Chargers, who outscored opponents 60-3. Carisa Calpo scored 11 goals and Megan Fuller added 10.
Mililani is "always a predominant force," Baumholtz said. The Trojans' Stephanie Yoro scored a division-high 13 goals, as the Trojans hope to reclaim the OIA title after winning three of the last four.
Kapolei "could be a force," according to Baumholtz, and 'Aiea is trying to defend its OIA title. Na Ali'i senior Ambree Ako and freshman Jacqueline Watkins have scored nine goals each.
Leilehua's Charlene Borromeo also scored nine, and the Rams are back in the tournament after missing last year.
Moanalua won the East for the second year in a row after outscoring opponents 36-6, with a division-low in goals allowed. It is led by last year's East Player of the Year Vanessa Butin, who scored seven goals this season, and Tanya Nojiri, who is second in the division with 10 goals.
The Cougars leaped into second place by defeating Kalaheo, 1-0, in the last game of the season, after starting the week tied for third place. Kaiser is led by Kehau Kim's seven goals.
"Kaiser has played pretty well this year; they have great potential," Baumholtz said.
Twins Ashley and Lauren Kanda helped Castle outscore opponents 32-10, with Ashley scoring a division-high 13, and Lauren chipping in 7.
The East is the more balanced division, with teams one through six separated by seven points. Kalaheo, Kailua and Kalani also are expected to be tough competition.
"Any of the East teams could surprise the field," Baumholtz said.
Reach Leila Wai at email@example.com.