Hurricanes Girls Soccer Plays Amid Improving West Oahu Competition
Kapolei’s place in the high-rent district of Oahu girls soccer is secure, but as head coach Brian Beck looks around, he sees the competition strengthening around him.
Much on Beck’s radar these days is Campbell, which happens to be Kapolei’s home-game opponent on Friday.
“It used to be us and Mililani and Pearl City (as the top-tier teams) in the West, but now you have Campbell, Aiea and Waianae, too,” said Beck. “Everyone is getting better. Preparing for Campbell this week is a little more special because our girls know how much talent they have now. They’re a program on the rise, so our girls are excited to play them.”
Kapolei couldn’t have asked for a better start to its season, as it rolled over Leilehua, Radford, Nanakuli and Waialua, outscoring opponents by an 18-0 count in the process.
A much-anticipated matchup with Mililani was to follow last Friday before the Hurricanes turn their attention to the Campbell game at 5:30 p.m. Friday.
The Mililani game also marked the halfway point of Kapolei’s OIA West season. On the heels of Friday’s game, they will play Pearl City Jan. 3, away; Waianae Jan. 7, at home; Waipahu Jan. 10, away; and Aiea Jan. 14, away, before the OIA post-season tournament.
“Over the next three weeks, we’ll be getting into the heart of our schedule. We’ll definitely be playing the tougher games. The Mililani game will be important because a win against them could set us up for the rest of our (regular) season.”
Seniors’ leadership has played no small role in Kapolei’s fast start, in Beck’s view. “It’s been real nice having an older team. We have 11 seniors, and practice runs smoother when you have players who are more mature. I’ve been a little hands-off with them, allowing them to find their own creativity.”
The Hurricanes also have thrived with the pace of their play. “We have a lot more team speed, and our possession game has been good,” Beck said. “We’ve moved the ball around quickly, and that’s created opportunities. We’re getting more shots off this year and amping up our production.”
Newcomer Alyssa Yoshida has given a huge boost to date, having tallied seven goals in her first four games.
“To see her stepping up as a freshman has really been fantastic,” Beck said. “We’re interested to see how she’ll play in the big games. She’s very calm and up to the challenge.”
On a team stocked with individual standouts, Beck had extra praise for seniors Alyssa Freitas, Kimi Owens and Arielle Stoyanow.
“Alyssa plays everywhere for us – she’s a four-year starter, and she’s the girl we call on usually to mark up against the other team’s strongest player. She fills those (tougher) roles.
“Kimi’s strength is definitely her leadership on and off of the field,” he added. “Her tenaciousness on defense is her strength. How Kimi plays is how the rest of the team plays. She’s super aggressive and never quits, and that spreads to the whole team.”
Stoyanow is the veteran goalkeeper, having been a key piece in Kapolei’s 7-3-2 season of a year ago.
“She’s just solid,” Beck said. “We never really have to worry about her. Having someone at that level allows us to play a lot more offensive-minded.
Her leadership is great, and it comes from being the only female on the football team. She brings that over to the soccer team, and she’s also good technically.”
Like the Hurricanes, Campbell also got the season off to a riveting start, outscoring its first five opponents 23-2, en route to wins over Aiea, Waianae, Leilehua, Radford and Nanakuli. Three of the Sabers’ wins came on the road. Friday’s game marks the beginning of a key three-game stretch for Campbell, which has games with Mililani Jan. 3 and Pearl City Jan. 10.