Leahi 03 Steps Up Game, Rises Above Vegas Cup Challenges

Leahi 03 did Hawaii proud at the 2015 Vegas Cup MLK Weekend Jan. 16-19. Photo from Rick Tubania.

Leahi 03 did Hawaii proud at the 2015 Vegas Cup MLK Weekend Jan. 16-19. Photo from Rick Tubania.

Leahi 03 soccer team was busy during Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend as it played in the Vegas Cup in the under-12 division. The team battled hard but lost in the final round to Beach FC North 3-2 in double overtime.

Prior to the tournament, the Hawaii team was unranked in its age bracket. After the hard work put forth during tournament play, however, it’s now ranked 207th nationally, 76th in the West Coast Region and No. 1 in Hawaii.

Parent Rick Tubania couldn’t be more proud of his daughter and the rest of the team. He credits much of the team’s success to coaches Sara Hashimoto and Austin Draper, who “did a great job in getting the girls ready for competition.

“The girls truly played their hearts out. Even though they came up a little short, nevertheless we are all proud of them.”

Hashimoto has been coaching this team for four years, and she too is proud of her girls and the effort they displayed the tourney.

“It’s such a group effort, and they are all deserving of such an accomplishment, especially looking back at how much they’ve committed to this and developed over the four years,” she said. “Individually, they are often outmatched, but collectively they continue to rise above challenges and compete well, near or far.”

From an execution standpoint, Hashimoto could list a number of ways the girls could have been better, especially in the areas of finishing and decision making. However, both she and Draper are extremely proud of how the team performed.

Leahi 03 showed great tenacity, as it came back from a one-goal deficit not just once but twice in the final match. They also displayed hard work and the mentality of never backing down.

“They approached each match with excitement, energy and courage against some very highly ranked teams in the region,” said Hashimoto. “Every single player on this team stepped up her game and was able to overcome individual barriers, which was rewarding in itself.”

She has seen great improvement since the team traveled to the Surf Cup in 2013, adding that their approach to games against Mainland competition have greatly developed.

“It shows us a degree of maturity and gamesmanship.”

The two coaches have been avid soccer players for years, and they coach out of Waiau District Park in Pearl City.

“Initially, we started out as a team with a bunch of our friends’ kids who lived in the Pearl City and Aiea area who just wanted to stay and play in their communities,” explained Hashimoto. “We’ve certainly grown since then, and now have players from Ewa, Waipahu and Mililani.”