Laukani Soccer Team Impresses A National AYSO Audience

Luck was on the side of Laukani girls soccer team when its number came up last spring in a lottery that led to the Aiea-based team accepting an invitation to the 2014 American Youth Soccer Organization National Games. On the field, however, the team made its own breaks at the recent tournament, held in Culver City, Calif., going 7-1 en route to play in the championship game, ultimately placing second in the 12U division.

Along the way, Laukani even surprised itself.

“My daughter (Alyson) told me she didn’t expect to do so well,” head coach DeAnne Hayashi said.

“Most of them were just hoping to make it out of pool play. To get to the championship game was more than anyone expected. The girls came to play, and they played with heart, and it really showed.”

More than 7,000 players (and 500 teams) from across the country played in AYSO’s National Games. A record crowd of 30,000 attended the event, beginning with a festival the first two days. Laukani was one of 36 teams in its age division.

On the Laukani roster were Alyson Hayashi, Autumn Kahapea, Hannah Yuasa, Hope Markillie, Jaida Sumajit, Janice Manzano, Kate Helbush, Megan Dalit, Paige Fahrni, Rylee Barber, Taylor Hayes and Zoe Bell.

Hayashi and assistant coach Kim Markillie were careful to mix fun with the business of tournament play. The team ohana watched a pro soccer game and visited Castle Amusement Park.

“Before or after the tournament, most of us went to Disney World, too,” Hayashi said. “During the tournament, we had them watch what they ate and we had them sleep at a regular time.”

After a few days, Laukani found itself something of a novel attraction, she said.

“Because we were doing well, the other teams were talking about us. Our girls weren’t used to that, and we had to explain to them that this was a good thing.”

Hayashi attributed Laukani’s success in the win-loss column to its closeness off of the playing field. (It also earned the “Outstanding Sportsman-ship”award in its age group at the nationals.)

“The fact that they were really good friends” carried them through, she said.

“We’d known since the end of last May that we would be traveling, so we had a whole year to grow as a team. They learned to respect each other and to play with each other. This was the first time for many of them that they’d traveled for any sport.

“We didn’t have a star player,” she added. “Everyone on the team knows their part, and they tried to do it for the whole team.”