Raiders keep soccer title hopes alive

HANAPEPE — A Kaua’i High School sweep in varsity soccer kept the championship trophy from leaving on anyone’s bus Saturday.

“I’m their biggest fan today,” Waimea High School boys coach Mark Kennett said while watching from the stands with some of his players.

Menehune defender Kollin Morikawa smiled, his red shirt doing all the talking.

“They’re (Kapa’a) just a point ahead of us,” Kennett said. “That means everything will come down to Wednesday.”

Kaua’i High School kept the Menehunes’ hopes for a boys’ Kaua’i Interschoedging the Kapa’a Warriors, 1-0 behind a first-half goal from Agu Garcia, the Raider midfielder beating out a Kapa’a defender for the shot-on-goal window at the goal mouth.

The Raiders were playing without the services of Frank Speetjens, who traveled to California this weekend to attend a college scout camp for soccer, but that did not appear to affect the Red Raiders, who got solid defensive play from Charlie Kato and Ryan Nagaoka in the backfield.

Goalie Jeremy Victor got a workout from the numerous Kapa’a shot attempts, but combined with the strong Kaua’i defense, kept the Warrior score-book empty.

“This is what it’s all about,” said Mark Sassone, one of the Kaua’i coaches Mark Sassone said. A Raider forfeit earlier eliminated any chances for a Kaua’i title, but you could not tell by the intensity demonstrated on the field, as Saturday’s win gave Kaua’i back-to-back wins.

“A tie Wednesday still keeps us alive,” Kennett said. “Last year, we had the championship with two or three games to spare. This year, it’s coming down to the last game.”

The Kaua’i High School girls’ varsity members relied on strong defense and passing to take a 2-1 win over Kapa’a in the finale at Hanapepe Stadium, keeping their KIF-championship hopes alive as well.

They prepare for their meeting against Waimea on Saturday. A win over the Menehune will force a playoff against Kapa’a for the title.

Early in the contest, Emma Makepa-Foley picked up a pass in the right pocket and fired. The shot was deflected by Kapa’a goalie Poe Gantt, whom the Raiders faced for the first time this season.

The deflection was touched by a Warrior defender before settling in the net.

Undaunted, Kapa’a bounced back, and on a collaboration between Ka’ala Leong and Jocelyn Enrique in front of the goal mouth, Enrique took the ball, and with just the right touch, assertively slipped it into the corner past the efforts of Kaua’i goalie Tamalyn Hasegawa for the 1-1 halftime reading.

Despite numerous shot-on-goal exchanges by both teams, it was a run up the middle by Skye Shimabukuro that put the icing on the win late in the game, as the freshman, junior-varsity upgrade fired a shot that got past Gantt for the win.

Throughout the contest, both teams jockeyed for supremacy, as Kapa’a coaches and players anchored their game around goalie Gantt and sweepers Amniesty Ragsac and Leila Neuberger, keeping Enrique on the bench until the game was underway.

Kaua’i relied on their defense anchored by Tiffany Ikeda-Simao and goalie Hasegawa, with defensive help from Auika Muragin, Ali Arakaki and Tahnee Shigematsu.

Kapa’a will face off against Waimea on Wednesday in varsity play, starting with the boys’ game at 5 p.m. The girls meet 20 minutes after the completion of the boys’ game.

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