Hurricanes Upbeat Heading Into Oahu Soccer Showcase

It didn’t take long for the Oahu Interleague Soccer Showcase to establish itself as the sport’s premier prep event of the preseason.

In three short years, the OISS has had three state champions pass through the tournament, including last year’s Division I champ, Kalani. With a field that will feature host Kapolei, Kalani, Mililani, Iolani, Kamehameha and state tourney runner-up Punahou, the 2014 showcase should once again to be akin to a mini state tournament.

“When we began, we wanted to have high-level competition,” said Kapolei coach Ryan Lau, who shares head coaching duties with Neal Sakaue and Mark Ishii. “What it does is it gets us focused right from the start. You see where you stand and what you need to work on right away.”

This year’s showcase will run Nov. 21-23, with each team guaranteed three games in as many days. As in past years, OIA teams will not play each other. Instead each game will pit an OIA team opposite a team from the ILH.

Lau and the Hurricanes have high hopes again with several key returnees from last season, when Kapolei went 12-3-1 overall. The team won nine games in a row during one stretch en route to another state tournament appearance.

Kapolei will be in the second week of tryouts by the time of the OISS, but Lau anticipated having much of his roster finalized by then. Key components returning are seniors Keo Ponce, Clarence Wong, Shay Akau and Dakota Kato.

“Keo and Clarence are two of our mainstays. Keo was one of the state’s top scorers last year, and in Clarence we have one of the top defenders in the state. He had a really good summer. He was fortunate to go to the Portland Timbers’ Nike Camp and did really well up there.

“We’ll also look to both Shay and Dakota, who are critical to us,” Lau added. “We’re looking for stable, consistent play from them.”

Lau also praised the play of junior C.J. Harvey, slated to be either on the wing or at forward. “We have a lot of good soccer players at Kapolei, but C.J. embodies the two traits we really look for – competitiveness and toughness,” Lau said.

Sophomores Lyric DeLeon and Shandon Hopeau highlight a talented corps of underclassmen.

“In our opinion, we have the best sophomore defender and the best sophomore forward in the state in both Lyric and Shandon,” Lau said. “Lyric is really consistent beyond his years. He has ‘next level’ skills. He has all the tools to play in college.

“We’re going to ask Shandon to push more and be even more assertive on the attack now that he has a year behind him (at varsity level). He’s a play-maker, who led us in assists last year. He recently was invited to the Adidas International Training Program in Real Madrid (football club), so we expect him to come in with a lot of confidence.”

Kapolei’s public unveiling is set for Nov. 16 at Punahou. It also opens the OISS against the Buffanblu at 7 p.m. Nov. 21. After a day off, Kapolei will play a pair of games Nov. 23, meeting Kamehameha at 9 a.m. and Iolani in the final game at 7 p.m.