Mustangs Pin Post-season Hopes On Next Three Soccer Games
The one-game-at-a-time mindset during playoff time was in place from day one within the Kalaheo boys soccer program. “The next game is the only game,” longtime head coach John Nakagawa likes to say.
His team is already in playoff mode as it reaches the final week of the OIA East season. With a 5-2 record entering last weekend, Kalaheo had positioned itself for a possible first or second seed in the upcoming OIA tournament, depending on how the last week of the regular season plays out.
A first or second seed would, more importantly, give Kalaheo a berth in the quarterfinals and into the double-elimination bracket of the OIA tourney. (The top six finishers there earn the league’s berths at next month’s state tournament.)
“That is really what matters, the seeding,” Nakagawa said.
With much at stake, he and the team were hoping to have their “A” game along as they close out their East slate with key games against McKinley Thursday, Kahuku Saturday and Castle Monday (away).
Both Castle and Kahuku were also in line for potentially good seedings as of press time, as they were each 3-2.
“All three are quality teams, and they’re very well-coached,” Nakagawa said of Castle, McKinley and Kahuku. “We all know each other well, and we know each other’s teams. Every game will be competitive. We prepare for each game separately, as it comes.”
Since arriving at Kalaheo, Nakagawa has made community service a staple within his program. This season, for the second time in four years, the boys soccer team is participating in Coaching Boys Into Men, a program set up by Futures Without Violence.
Established in 2001, FWV “equips athletic coaches with strategies, scenarios and resources needed to build attitudes and behaviors among young male athletes that prevent relationship abuse, harassment, and sexual assault,” according to its mission statement.
Nakagawa welcomed the program, which was suggested by athletic director Mark Brilhante as another way to deliver his daily messages about values. Once a week, he and fellow coach Blair Hannah teach a lesson provided through FWV, whose ultimate vision is to prevent or reduce domestic violence. “We were taught how to deliver and teach the 12 lessons. We typically meet on Mondays, and it’s an interactive lesson. We’ll ask them about questions and bring up scenarios they may find themselves in.
It’s about teaching them to be respectful to women, about doing the right things and helping each other out.
“This is natural progression for us, as it reinforces our culture and the idea of teamwork.”
Kalaheo’s five wins to date came against Kailua (2-0), Moanalua (2-1), Roosevelt (5-0), Kaimuki (8-1) and Farrington (4-0). Losses were to Kaiser (1-0) and Kalani (4-1).
Pairings for the upcoming OIA tournament will be revealed at the end of the regular season.
“On the field, we’ve been playing very strong,” Nakagawa added. “We have a strong group of seniors and a number of under-classmen who are either returnees or new to the program.”