Hurricanes Face Soccer Hurdles In Campbell, Pearl City

One week doesn’t make a season, especially for a team that plans to play deep into the state tournament in February, but there can be no doubt that the Kapolei boys soccer team has entered the high-rent district as far as their schedule goes.

Beginning with last Thursday’s OIA West conference showdown with Mililani, the Hurricanes are in the midst of the most challenging part of their season. A much-anticipated game with Campbell was to follow this Thursday; the Hurricanes host Pearl City Friday night in another monster matchup. Mililani, Campbell and Pearl City were a combined 6-1-1 through the first week and a half of the OIA’s season.

Kapolei breezed through its first two games, shutting out Waialua and Nanakuli by 9-0 scores, and then had a bye week to get ready for their key three-game stretch.

“Obviously, it’s a building block – we always emphasize that we’re building (toward the state tourney),” said Ryan Lau, who handles the coaching duties alongside Neal Sakaue and Mark Ishii. “Along the way, you want to challenge yourself. With Mililani, Campbell and Pearl City, we’ll have resistance, and we won’t be able to do things that perhaps we usually do. So we will raise our own game up and play quicker. Hopefully, competition will bring that out. This is about positioning for the OIA playoffs. We all obviously want to finish first or second and earn the first-round bye.”

Setting the pace in games has remained another point of emphasis for the Hurricanes, according to Lau, who is preparing his team for Friday’s Pearl City game. “So far, we’ve been able to dictate the pace and hold possession. We’ve been good at finishing, and a lot of our goals have come from good passing. Team-ball, as far as our scoring, has been there. Against Pearl City, we have to dictate the pace from the start, limit their chances, and make the most of our own chances.”

The Hurricanes have benefitted big-time from several returning veterans, but a host of newcomers also have come through in the early-going, in Lau’s view. Among them are freshman fullback Lyric DeLeon and center/midfielder Shandon Hopeau. Lau also praised the play of Brandon Begonia, Keo Ponce, Dylan Orian, Shay Akau and Vineal Singh. Ponce is among the state’s leaders in scoring with five goals so far, while Singh (4), Begonia (3), Orian (3) and Hopeau (six assists) are also off to fast starts.

Above all, the Hurricanes’ roster is one of generalists rather than specialists, Lau said. “A lot of them can play different positions and are interchangeable. We have more components than in past years.”

Friday’s game is the midway point of Kapolei’s OIA season. Games remain with Waianae (away, Dec. 28), Waipahu (home, Jan. 4), Aiea (home, Jan. 8), Leilehua (home, Jan. 11) and Radford (away, Jan. 14).