Kalaheo Mustang Boys Soccer: A Study In Commitment
The ultimate win in soccer head coach John Nakagawa’s mind is a “total team win.” His 2012-13 Kalaheo boys team had a whole slew of those this winter in compiling an 11-2-2 mark.
“Commitment, effort and team play – that was our philosophy, and the boys took it to heart and continued throughout,” said Nakagawa. “We’re extremely proud and very, very satisfied with our season.”
His latest team is akin to a rock band without a true front man – a team largely without star power. “I would say so,” he said. “We have some very good talent, and we have some very good athletes. The key is putting it all together as one package. They trusted each other and played as a team very, very well.”
Commitment to team defense was perhaps its best attribute, as Kalaheo won six games by way of a shut-out and yielded only a single goal in four other outings. It also went 5-0-2 in games decided by a goal, and 4-0-1 in road games.
Kalaheo’s only two losses came to DI state champion Kalani in the regular season and eventual DII state champion Kapaa in a semifinal game. The Mustangs won the OIA DII tournament Jan. 25 over Farrington (1-0 in overtime) and finished third at the DII state tournament.
The team had reeled off six straight wins by mid-season and was projected to be in the mix for the state title. Between the OIA and state tournaments, it got some added motivation from athletic director Mark Brilhante.
“Our A.D. talked to the kids twice, and it was very inspiring,” Nakagawa recalled. “Two words summed it up. He told them to finish strong, and that really epitomized what we did. We adopted a mind-set for the last push. On the last day, I told the kids how fortunate we were to be playing on the last day of the high school soccer season.”
Kalaheo had opened at states in riveting form Feb. 7, edging Christian Liberty in the fourth minute of the second overtime session. It also claimed the OIA White tournament in overtime on a goal by Cody Inagaki three minutes into the extra session. Kalaheo’s OIA title was the soccer program’s first since 1996.
The Mustangs’ prospects for next season also are solid, as 19 lettermen should return from the 29-member roster.
“We look at every year as a ‘building year’ – we’re building a new team,” Nakagawa said. “We’ll have a strong corps back, and that’s exciting. We’re already talking about next year. I’m always thinking about it.”