It’s High Time For Kalaheo Girls Soccer Team To Kick It Up

For the Kalaheo girls soccer team, next week’s Division II state tournament is an opportunity to finish some unfinished business.

A year ago, the Lady Mustangs endured a pair of heart-rending encounters to Makua Lani (3-2) and Honokaa (1-0 in two overtimes and on penalty kicks). A broken leg suffered by Kalaheo standout Kiana Bowman during an OIA Tournament game a week prior to the state tourney also hung over the team.

“It was like somebody popped a balloon,” said head coach Alan Heu. “This year will be different, we hope. A fresh slate awaits Kalaheo this time around.

“This is it for the seniors,” Heu said of state title possibilities, “and our underclassmen also realize that we’re moving up to Division I next year, so this year could be the one. That’s been a driving factor, too.”

Pairings for the Division II state championships, which run Feb. 5-8, were to be revealed late Sunday.

Kalaheo finished 4-6 in the OIA Red East this season with all four wins coming in succession at the end. One-goal losses to DI schools Castle, Kailua and Kahuku at the beginning showed the team it was close to getting over the hump. But losses to Kaiser, Moanalua and Roosevelt followed, leaving Kalaheo 0-6 with three weeks left. From there, the Lady Mustangs saw their fortunes finally turn as they went on to post wins over Kaimuki (3-1), Farrington (1-0), Kalani (1-0) and McKinley (2-

0). (Kaimuki, Farrington and Kaimuki are all in Division II, while Kalani is in DI this season.)

Kalaheo’s win over McKinley in the regular-season finale ultimately put the program over the top, as it secured the No. 1 seed from the East for last week’s DII tournament as well as one of the league’s four berths for the state. “That was such a key game for us,” Heu said.

Kalaheo has relied heavily on a talented corps of seniors that includes Taylor Catobus, Jenn Chun, Mayumi Ishikawa, Mele Kahanu and Helena Stevenson. Kahanu missed several games with an injury but was cleared to return to action late last week.

Goalkeepers Nikki Grimm and Tierra Bush also have been key players, as defense has remained the team’s forte throughout the season.

“That’s been our strong point, the defense,” said Heu. “Defense wins championships, as the old saying goes. We gave up goals to the best teams — Kaiser, Moanalua and Roosevelt — but haven’t allowed many since. The defense has been very strong. Now we’re hoping our offense can come around.

“We don’t have (individual stars from past Kalaheo teams, like) an Anela Gonzales, a Tina Garcia or a Lindsey Peck — kids we could throw the ball out to and they would make it happen. We have had to convert some forwards, who play other positions with their club teams. Our offense will have to rise to the occasion.”

Also a priority this week was to taper off the workouts to ensure they are rested for next week’s state tournament.

“Fatigue begins to set in this time of the season,” he said. “They’re usually (involved) six days a week, so Sunday is their only day to rest. We’ll probably take some time off.”