Sabers Are Young But ‘Getting Better’

A year ago at this time, the Campbell boys soccer team was perhaps a season away from contention in the OIA West, as its roster was dominated by a talented group of underclassmen.

A spirited run through the OIA playoffs followed, highlighted by an upset win over eventual Division I state champion Kalani.

Not surprisingly, head coach Randy White is hoping to continue the upward climb this time around.

“We’re very excited about this year, and we only lost three seniors,” said White, who led Campbell to its first boys state tournament appearance in 11 years last season. “We got to a place last year that we didn’t expect to get to. There’s more pressure now to maintain that level. We’re still young and still a work in progress, but I can say we’re getting better.”

The Sabers had a busy preseason, playing eight games. “We don’t put much stock into wins and losses in preseason,” he said. “We tried to evaluate and play everybody.”

Campbell was to open its 2013-14 season Tuesday against Leilehua, and it hosts Radford at 7:10 p.m. Friday. “We’re hoping our kids won’t be intimidated by their size,” White said. “They usually have good size and good athletes there. We’re not usually that big.”

Campbell will, however, feature one of its more skilled teams in recent years, led by senior captain Richard Orpilla, who will play mid-fielder. “He’s our big motivator and leader of the team.”

Also back in the fold are a pair of the league’s top defensive players in sophomores Keenan Soares and Chay Mattos. Both are fixtures with Rush Soccer Club. Mattos was a Second Team All-League selection as a freshman last year, while Soares was named a West Honorable Mention. He recently suffered a lower body injury, but is expected to return in the coming weeks.

“Our backline with Chay and Keenan will be our strength with their toughness,” said White, who also added the services of highly regarded Rush coach Stan Fuller to the Campbell staff in the off-season. “We’re going to focus on our defense. Defense is what helped us in our win over Kalani last year. We have the veteran backline and more skilled midfielders this year. What we’re lacking right now are scorers.”

White also has high hopes for sophomore midfielder Bryson Maximo, who made an immediate impact last winter in his freshman season, as well as newcomers Jacob Curran and David Tupper. All three compete with Rush Soccer Club during the prep off-season.

Tupper injured his wrist in a recent preseason game, but is expected to return to action soon, according to White.

Campbell has home games against Waialua Dec. 20, Mililani Jan. 3, Pearl City Jan. 10 and Waianae Jan. 20.