Waialua Soccer Being Tested

When Waialua boys soccer head coach John Rosa talks to his current team about seeing their hard work pay off, he always can refer to the 2009-10 Bulldog team to help make his point. The OIA Division II championship plaque from that season also helps.

“They always see it and ask me about it and that team,” Rosa said. “I tell them, you have to keep working hard to get into that situation. Just as in life, your hard work will pay off.”

The current team gets its chance to make some history of its own this week, beginning with Wednesday’s OIA playoff game at home at 6:30 p.m. against McKinley. The winner secures itself a berth in the upcoming state Division II tournament.

A state berth would be a fitting end to a riveting season. Waialua went 3-7 overall, yet had a 3-0 mark versus its White West counterparts: Waipahu, Leilehua and Nanakuli. The Bulldogs are seeded second in the DII West this week and were close to getting over the hump in one-goal losses to Division I teams Aiea and Waianae.

Waialua fought hard against the West’s elite — Kapolei and Mililani. The Bulldogs were tied 2-2 with Kapolei at halftime before falling off the pace and was highly competitive in its 4-0 loss to Mililani.

While Waialua is still one of the younger West teams, they are seasoned, as the bulk of them played steadily since joining as freshmen. Juniors Elmer Agtina, Thomas Pule, Caelan Alejandro and Christian Paracuelles-Calaro all have been in the lineup since ninth grade.

“There’s a good connection between all of them,” Rosa said. “Caelan is our captain, and he gives us good leadership. He understands where I’m coming from as a coach. He’s a very smart young man. Thomas could play all over. He’s our solid defender.

“Elmer is very fast and he’s quick. He’s also versatile. At times, we’ve put him at forward.”

Paracuelles-Calaro helped drive Waialua across the finish line in the season’s biggest game to date, scoring twice in a 3-2 victory over Nanakuli Jan. 20. (Alejandro scored the other goal.)

“He has a nice foot — he can strike the ball very well,” Rosa said of Paracuelles-Calaro.

Should the team get past McKinley Wednesday, it will go to Leilehua at 6:30 p.m. Thursday to play the Mules in an OIA semifinal. Leilehua finished with one more win than Waialua to earn the No. 1 seed from the West, as well as a first-round bye on Wednesday. The OIA DII championship game is set for 5 p.m. Friday at Kapolei High School.

The Bulldogs need to play a “possession” game this week to advance, in Rosa’s view. “Mainly, we need to have a lot of ball control and finish (plays with scores) and keep playing good defense. If our defense can hold up and we take it one game at a time, we’ll advance. From there, who knows?” jackster.1969@yahoo.com