Warriors capitalize on unseeded status

The Kapa‘a High School boys soccer team goes into today’s Meadow Gold Hawai‘i State Soccer Tournament unseeded, but head coach Kevin Cram thinks that might be to the team’s advantage.

“Going in unseeded, you don’t have that pressure other than to do well,” Cram said. “All we can do is move up.”

In today’s first round, the Kapa‘a Warriors face off against the Leilehua Mules of the O‘ahu Interscholastic Association.

“I’m confident we can compete,” he said. “I know (Leilehua) has quick players. It’ll be a tough match. We’ve been working on defending a little more.”

Cram thinks the team’s success will depend on the teamwork.

“I’ll make a few changes depending on how things go. Our starters are pretty young, but knowing that we’ve got players that can come off the bench and play will be good for us,” he said.

His underclassmen starters include juniors Chance Bukoski and Parker Blaylock and sophomore Ikaika Fuerte.

Junior Adam Kerlin thinks that being unseeded is both good and bad for the team.

“I actually think that’s to our advantage, but I think it’s to our disadvantage too in that we have more games to play to get to the championships,” Kerlin said. “We have four games to play. But at least that means we’ll go into the second day ready to play and not like you’ve been off for a day like the seeded teams have been.”

Since 1974, every state soccer champion has come from either the OIA or the Interscholastic League of Honolulu.

Kerlin and the team hope to change that.

“As long as we play as a team, we can do well,” he said. “We’re prepared as much as we can be and we hope to show everyone that the KIF isn’t just a league that can be written off.”

Senior co-captain Nick Arnold said the way to do that is to take control of the game early on.

“Everyone here is pretty tight,” he said. “We want to take control of the game and show them we can play. But I think no matter what, if we play tight as a team, no matter what the score is in the end I think we’ll be champions.”

Kapa‘a’s last appearance at the soccer tournament was in 2002.

Kapa‘a (7-0-1) plays Leilehua (11-2-0) at 3 p.m. at the Waipio Peninsula Soccer Complex on O‘ahu.

If Kapa‘a wins today, they move on to the quarterfinal round against top-seeded Kamehameha Schools—Kapalama (11-0-1). Kamehameha Schools—Kapalama last won the state soccer championships in 2005.

• Lanaly Cabalo, sports editor, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 237) or lcabalo@kauaipubco.com.

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