WAILUA HOMESTEADS — More than week has past since Kapaa High School’s varsity boys soccer team won the Kauai Interscholastic Federation title.
With some time to rest up, they’re now looking ahead to a difficult task — playing against some of the best teams in the state at the Hawaii High School Athletic Association Division II tournament this week.
“We started off recovering from the season, licking our wounds and then we started to prepare,” said Kapaa head coach Gary Hudson during Tuesday’s practice at the Wailua Homesteads Park. “Back to basics – started working on our defensive skills, work on our passing and working on our finishing. Now, we’re wrapping it all up this week and focusing on polishing our act, so to say, and prepare to head over there.”
The Warriors coach added that this season has been especially challenging and believes it has primed his team for what’s in front of them.
“This year was a really competitive year. We were all equal,” he said. “We were tied with Waimea going into the last weekend. Kauai High was right there. It was an exciting, stressful season. Now that it’s over, I’m proud of these guys. They stepped up, took care of business and did what needed to get done so we could move on and go to states.”
Senior stopper Noah LaMadrid said practices leading up to states have been intense and have been focused on getting the players’ fitness up to snuff.
“We always want to be fitter than our opponent. We wanted to make sure by the second half, we’re ready to go like it was the beginning of the game,” LaMadrid said.
He added, having been on a team that went all the way when he was a sophomore, he hopes that experience will be beneficial.
“I think it’s just that level of what I know what we’re going to be facing,” he said. “I know what we need to get there.”
Senior goalkeeper Austyne Carvalho-Toloai also said previously participating at the state tournament has helped him prepare. He, too, was on the state championship team two years ago.
“We’re playing against the best in the state, and that’s what you’re going to get,” Carvalho-Toloai said. “I’ve been on a state championship team and last year’s team. These guys are just good. You got to play your best.”
When asked if he feels added pressure as the team’s goalie to not allow goals, he said clean sheets are always the plan.
“That’s how I feel every game. That’s how I feel I need to play to help my team out and make sure we get that win,” he said.
The Outrigger Resorts Boys Soccer State Championships – Division II tournament begins Thursday at the Waipio Peninsula Soccer Complex on Oahu. Kapaa will face Hawaii Prep of the Big Island at 5 p.m. Thursday.
“We’re really just going to focus on our game and not worry about them. I feel if we can play our good game that I know we can bring, we should be all right,” Hudson said about the first-round matchup. “We did see each other in the preseason. We saw each other at the HPA tournament right after Thanksgiving weekend. But that was a long time ago. We’re a different team now, and they’re a different team.”