Hurricanes Kick It Up To Reach Goal Of Best In State

The senior members of Kapolei’s boys’ soccer team have spent the last year in a race against their eligibility clocks. The Hurricanes turned their focus to the 2011-12 season the moment the 2010-11 season wrapped.

“They want to be the best in the state, and that’s been a driving force,” Kapolei head coach Bryce Kaneshiro said. “Because they won the OIA (Oahu Interscholastic Association) last year, all the talk this year has been about winning the state championship.”

However this week plays out for the Hurricanes, it has been quite a ride for Kapolei’s 15-member senior class. The Hurricanes have managed to make the OIA Championship game each of the past three seasons (winning in 2012), and were one win away from making last weekend’s 2012 OIA title game as well as they played fellow West-power Pearl City late last Thursday in a semifinal contest. (Results of that game were unavailable at press time. Kapolei and Pearl City had both already qualified for this week’s Outrigger Hotels Division I State Tournament.)

The Hurricanes also have advanced to the semifinals of the state tournament twice in the last three years and appeared on track for another solid run this year after the way they progressed in the OIA Tournament.

Kapolei’s 3-1 win over Aiea last week officially punched the Hurricanes’ ticket for the state tournament.

“That win gives us a chance, no matter what happens (in the rest of the OIA Tournament),” Kaneshiro said.

Kapolei entered the Pearl City game 10-0-1 with the tie coming with Mililani in early January.

Offensive balance and opportunistic defense have played no small role.

“We stress playing defense with all 11 guys, and it starts with the forwards,” Kaneshiro said.

“We have a very wellrounded team,” he added. “We’ve had 16 different guys score, and that makes us more dangerous when that many people have tasted success.”

Caleb Gouveia and Keo Ponce have eight goals apiece to lead Kapolei, while Richard Gallarde, the program’s lone four-year starter, has tallied seven. The Hurricanes’ 45 goals through last week placed them third in the state in scoring behind Mililani and Kalani.

“We haven’t played our best ‘full game’ yet,” Kaneshiro said. “Hopefully, we’ll see our best at the state tournament.”

The tournament also may see Kapolei renew acquaintances with ILH powers, depending on how the pairings work out. The Hurricanes’ three-game sweep over state powers Iolani (1-0), Punahou (2-0) and Kamehameha (2-0) at this year’s event was a confidence boost, but the games that count are this week.

“Everybody gets better,” he said. “It’s our job to make sure we progress along with them.”