Fisher Upbeat About His 2014 HPU Soccer Sharks Team<

The “fan” in head coach Chris Fisher is ever-present, even when guiding his Hawaii Pacific University soccer team on game day.

“I enjoy watching us play,” said Fisher. “We’ve been putting out a pretty exciting brand of soccer the last few years.”

As he enters his fourth year leading the men’s program, this could well be the year the Sharks make yet another quantum leap. Fisher’s first HPU team delivered the school’s first PacWest soccer title in 2011, and the Sharks went 17-9-6 in league games over the past two seasons.

“Talent-wise and as far as depth, this is overall the best team we’ve had here. I would put it up against any (DII team) in the country. We just have to keep putting it together. We play a good possession game, our defense is strong and hard on the tackle, and when we win a ball, we have some excellent players.”

The Sharks won their first two games against Chaminade (2-0) and BYUH (4-1) before leaving for their first road trip recently. HPU tied University of Colorado at Colorado Springs (1-1) and lost to Metropolitan State University of Denver (2-2) on the trip. It returns to action over the weekend against UH-Hilo.

“We didn’t get the results we wanted on the Colorado trip, but we were the better team in both games,” said Fisher. “We have a good mix of local and international players.”

Among those earning high praise from the coach two weeks into the season was freshman Chris Galang from Mililani High. “He’s exceeded all of our expectations and has done really well,” Fisher said of Galang, who already had a goal and an assist to his credit through four games. “He has a lot of speed and a good presence.”

Fisher’s also high on “the Kamehameha boys” — Jason Kunitomo, Nahoa Salero, William Konamua and Kaneohe’s Kona Gaison. “They’ve been doing really well for us.”

The Sharks also have gotten strong play from veterans Brais Garcia and Erik Kemsies, and newcomers Ryo Sugihara and Jackson Groves. “Ryo is a dynamic player, and Jackson provides a toughness in the middle that we’ve been lacking.”

HPU starts another road trip next week, playing Sonoma State in California Tuesday, Academy of Art Sept. 25 and Notre Dame de Namur Sept. 27.

Although the Sharks have played five of their last six games on the Mainland, road trips are ideally suited to building team chemistry, Fisher noted. “Everyone is together for breakfast, lunch and dinner, so it definitely brings a team closer. Back home, we’re spread out, and we have distractions.

“We actually did better last year on the road than we did at home.”

Upcoming home games at Kaneohe’s Atherton Field are Azusa Pacific Oct. 4, Point Loma Oct. 6, Dixie State Oct. 9, Cal Baptist Oct. 11, BYUH Oct. 17 and Chaminade Nov. 1.