Kaua’i faces different kind of Menehune

As if the KIF champion Kaua’i (7-2) girls soccer squad needed to face the Menehune again this season.

The Red Raiders, who played the Waimea Menehune four times this year, begin state tournament play today at 5 p.m. against the Menehune of Moanalua.

However, Kaua’i will receive a much tougher challenge from the OIA’s version of the small-but-mighty person.

During the regular season, the Red Raiders cruised in all four victories against Waimea.

The ladies in red are also going into state tournament play red hot, with six straight wins en route to the KIF title, which included a thrilling overtime golden goal win over Kapa’a in the season finale.

The Red Raiders are led by freshman sensation Skye Shimabukuro, Megan Vento, Rachel Taira, Emma Makepa-Foley, Allison Arakaki, Tamalyn Hasegawa, Auika Muragin, Tasha Pigao, Cherisse Rapozo, Tahnee Shigematsu, and K.C. Gaitos.

Head coach Blanche Arakaki knew her team had enough heart and fire power to pull it out at the end of the season.

If Kaua’i makes it past Moanalua in the first round, then they’ll face the tournament’s top seed, Kamehameha-O’ahu on Thursday. Mari Punzal, a Kapa’a resident, is a junior for the Warriors. A loss by the Red Raiders would put them in a consolation bracket game on Thursday and out of state championship contention.

The other three seeds in the HHSAA/ Meadow Gold Girls State Soccer Championships are #2 Mililani, #3 Konawaena, and #4 King Kekaulike.

The tournament is being held on the campus of Kamehameha Schools, Maui.

The KIF champion Waimea boys team kicks off state play from Feb. 15- 18 at the Waipio Peninsula Soccer Park and Stadium. The seeds for the boys tournament haven’t been released yet.

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