Waipahu Girls Soccer Team Excels In The Classroom, Too

As in past years, defense is the Waipahu girls soccer team’s forte. When the Marauders host Leilehua at 5:30 p.m. Saturday in an OIA West game, head coach Elaina Paredes is hoping her team’s best offense is their defense.

“Definitely our team defense will be important,” she said. “They (Leilehua) are pretty consistent year after year. From the striker line all the way down to our goalkeeper, we’ll need to be good defensively.”

The Marauders were still looking for their first league win late last week, having dropped a pair of hard-fought encounters to Waianae and Radford in week one of OIA West play. Waipahu’s defense and its veteran leadership have carried the action to date as they look for more offensive production.

Only two years ago, the Marauders captured the OIA Division II title en route to a state tournament appearance. Three holdovers from that season are back in the fold in seniors Katelyn Onaga, Caitlin Estanique and Kayla Obrero.

Onaga is a sweeper, while Estanique and Obrero are mid-fielders. “I’d say Katelyn’s strength is her toughness,” Paredes said. “Although she’s tiny in stature, she never gives up. She has great skills, but more important is her level-headedness. She keeps the team grounded. She’s that voice of reason.

“Caitlin is a four-year starter who is very skillful and very tough. She takes the most beating in games, but she never lets down. I’m proud of her for that. Kayla has decent skills, but most important is her mentality and her leadership. She brings that chemistry. She brings all the girls together.”

Junior defender Erika Ebia also is a team captain and helps anchor efforts in the back. “She’s a great defender – she has skills and a very strong leg,” Paredes said. “On our set plays, she’s the one (who’s featured and) who takes them. She’s also very vocal on the field, which helps us as well.”

Paredes also cited her team’s depth throughout its 20-member roster as one of its strengths. “We’re pretty consistent. There’s not much difference between our first and second group, so when we have to substitute, we are able to keep up the same level of play.”

Off the field, diligence in the classroom has boosted the program, according to the coach. “Academically, the girls have been getting really great grades. Our goal was to have the best grade-point average of any team in the school, and we have some real scholars on this team.”

Following the Leilehua game, Waipahu will have a week off to prepare for a much-anticipated road trip Dec. 27 to Mililani. The remaining home slate includes Nanakuli Jan. 3, Kapolei Jan. 10 and Campbell Jan. 14.