Waipahu Soccer Team Shifts To DII, Opens Season Dec. 5

Should the Waipahu girls soccer team make a post-season run in mid-February, the Marauders likely will look back on their depth as a huge contributing factor, according to head coach Elaina Paredes.

“We have 13 seniors who have all developed through the program,” she said. “By now, most of them have been playing together for at least two years. We have a deep roster this year. I don’t see any break in the tempo of the game (when substituting). That really excites me.”

Midfielder Jessica Gonzales is one reason for that optimism. A senior, she is the lone holdover from Waipahu’s 2010-11 OIA White championship team and has been a mainstay in the lineup ever since.

The team played in Division I the last two seasons, but has been shifted back to DII for this season.

“I’m hoping she’ll end her career winning it again,” Paredes said of Gonzales. “She’s matured as well, especially in pressure situations, and she’s really developed her ball-handling skills and her ability to see the field.”

Paredes also had high praise for senior defender Kara Phillips, who will anchor the back. “We’re looking for her to be the leader on the defensive side of the field. She’s also the student body president, so she has a lot on her plate.”

In addition to its large senior class, Waipahu’s depth improved further in the off-season in part because of the arrival of Kapolei transfer Abigail Castro, and freshmen Karlee Manding, Alysha Somera and Jenna Ramirez.

“Our three freshmen are outstanding,” Paredes said of the trio, who all play for Rush Soccer Club during the high school’s off-season. “I don’t usually pick up freshmen for the varsity unless they’re ready to be starters.”

Meanwhile, Castro is projected to be starter as goalie.

“She’s very, very strong, and I like her attitude. Boxing is actually her first sport — she travels to the Mainland to compete in tournaments — so she’s very athletic and very fit.”

Solidifying the defense is a theme for Waipahu’s preseason camp, according to Paredes, who noted the addition of former University of Hawaii player Rachael Domingo to her coaching staff. “We’ve always been defensive-minded, but looking at the talent we have this season, we want to be able to make sure we keep the score down,” she explained. “Rachael’s been helping us with our defense. We’ve been making a concerted effort on our defense from an individual standpoint through our team defense.”

Waipahu’s OIA opener is set for Dec. 5, when the Marauders host Campbell. Paredes is hoping the public will fill the stands.

“We really would appreciate some support,” she said. “The girls really work hard, and the community is going to be proud of their soccer team this year.”