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Calm Demeanor Keeps Kapolei Soccer Team At The Top

With the OIA Red girls soccer tournament semifinals set to be played in its own stadium, not to mention a potential TV appearance, the pressure must have been on Kapolei last week when it met Moanalua in the quarterfinals.

Not so, said head coach Brian Beck, who watched his team advance with a 2-0 victory, thus clinching a berth in next week’s Division I state soccer tournament. If anything, Kapolei’s success to date may be in part because of the relaxed air that prevails on the field.

“Overall, we’ve just played really calm this year,” said Beck, whose team took a 10-1 mark into its semifinal game with Kaiser last Thursday. “We’re mellow and confident and calm. There’s been maybe one time when we weren’t — at the end of the Campbell game — but we’ve kept our heads when we’ve been stressed and haven’t made mistakes. That was different last year when we’d get frustrated.”

Kapolei is making a return to the state soccer tournament after missing last year’s tourney for the first time since Beck took over in 2007. In fact, the Hurricanes went 7-3-2 a year ago and deserved perhaps a better fate, as losses to Moanalua and Kahuku in the OIA tournament, decided by penalty kicks, kept them off the state tournament field.

“Not making states after not giving up a goal (in regulation time) was frustrating for the girls,” said Beck. A year later, the Hurricanes are more work manlike and putting the celebrations on hold, at least for now. “Because of what happened last year, they don’t celebrate. They’re humbled to make it (the tournament). After the win over Moanalua, they didn’t celebrate that much and that was refreshing. (The feeling is that) there’s something more to do.”

With the OIA tournament finished last Saturday, the Hurricanes have this week to prepare for states. Much of the early focus was on increasing offensive production. The Hurricanes responded by scoring at least two goals or more in all but three of their first 11 games. Freshman Alyssa Yoshida has helped the cause to that end with a team-leading nine goals through last Thursday, despite being a first-year player.

“(Offense) is really what we keyed in on,” said Beck. “We knew we’d have a solid defense again. Our girls are obsessed with not giving up a goal, which is fantastic.” Going into last Thursday’s OIA semifinal with Kaiser, veteran goalkeeper Arielle Stoyanow hadn’t yielded a goal since a Dec. 27 loss to Campbell. Beck acknowledged the play of center-mid-fielders Jenna Tomei and Kelli Fryxell as two key reasons why the Hurricanes have been strong in the back.

“Kelli is the more physical of the two; Jenna is more the finesse player,” Beck said. “They complement each other well.”

Kapolei owns a 10-8-1 record in state tournament games since 2007. Pairings for the DI state tournament, which runs next Wednesday-Saturday at Waipio Peninsula Soccer Park, will be released this Sunday. jackster.1969@yahoo.com