HANAPEPE — “Milk — it does the body good,” said Leonard Vegas, after the Kalaheo Lono team earned the Under 14 Girls title, Wednesday night at Hanapepe Stadium
Between Monday and Wednesday night, both the Kaua‘i Stingers and the Kalaheo Lono, redubbed Kalaheo Milk by Vegas, must have had a fair share of it as the Stingers clinched the American Youth Soccer Organization, Region 940 Under 12 Girls title with a 2-1 edge over Real Waimea.
Malu Vegas, Leonard’s daughter, had a hat trick in the first quarter and added another in the second half to lead Kalaheo to a 5-1 win over Onipa‘a for the U14G title.
All four teams advance to the Wil Veech tournament which starts Monday at Vidinha Stadium.
In winning their respective games, both the Stingers and Kalaheo made their mark early and played ball control for the remainder of the match, literally running the ball just out of touch of their opponents, something that did not happen Monday night.
Bailey Kanekalau drew first blood for Real Waimea in the U12G. That was almost the scenario from Monday night’s matchup.
But on the ensuing kickoff, Pili Chung answered for the Stingers for the 1-1 stalemate that stood until Kailee Balbarino broke the deadlock for the 2-1 edge, and the title.
Both teams played strong defense with the Stingers’ taller and more powerful players being tamed by the Real Waimea greenshirts.
However, with its height advantage and strength, the Stingers were first to the ball and with its power, kicked long, wearing down the Waimea defenders.
Once satisfied that it had an edge, the Stingers kept the Waimea defenders moving while containing the dangerous Kanekalau to just a single goal.
Kalaheo rolled to a different scenario as Malu opened with a hat trick in the first quarter, opening with a goal following a cross field drive after securing the ball on defense. Her second goal came under pressure from Onipa‘a’s Tiara Teter, but Malu took the pass and put a strong head on the ball which bounced out of Onipa‘a goalkeeper Wendi Tokuike’s save attempt and rolled into the pocket.
But Onipa‘a answered when Kristin Kaohelauli‘i opened the second quarter with a wide open goal from the rightside.
Strong defense from both sides governed play, but Mia Cabulisan of Kalaheo was firm in stopping the ball from getting to goalkeeper Emma Sloan.
She was joined by Caitlyn Rapozo, who despite playing lighter than Monday, moved the ball around the field to find Malu.
Kaycee Nordmeier of Onipa‘a stepped up for a solid performance in stopping balls. Jayme Knapp played strong defense for three quarters before swapping with Kaohelaulii as forward in an attempt at scoring.
Comfortable with its 3-1 halftime lead, Kalaheo turned its attention to letting other players take the scoring role, most notably, attention going to Noel Kamakea on the right wing who kept getting feeds from Malu, Rapozo and Cabulisan.
But pressure from Nordmeier stymied any effort from Kamakea, the final play of the game centering around both players as Nordmeier checked the ball at the line.
Malu finished the night with four goals, one coming in the second half when she broke open on an up-the-middle play to score in the fourth quarter.
Nicole Gardner, who scored two Kalaheo goals to pull the blueshirts back into the fray Monday night, was pivotal in Rapozo’s goal in the third quarter. The play started when Gardner overtook the Onipa‘a player intent on a breakaway and won the ball which she passed to Rapozo for the goal to end the third quarter.
According to preliminary announcements, the Under 12 teams play Monday at the Wil Veech tournament starting at 4:30 p.m.
The Under 14 teams play Tuesday starting at 4:30 p.m.