Tuesday, May 24, 2022 |
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LIHUE — It’s been a week since the Kauai Interscholastic Federation girls soccer season ended. Since clinching a state berth, the Red Raiders have had their eyes set on the big run.
“We’ve had some good practices. We’re looking at things we can improve on when we get to states,” said Kauai High varsity girls soccer head coach Joe Cassler during Friday’s practice in Lihue. “Just looking to increase our speed. We know these Oahu teams that we’re going to be playing are fast. They’re faster than the teams that we face here in the KIF. Mainly working on game speed and things like that to get prepared.”
The Queen’s Medical Center Girls Soccer Championships – Division II state tournament begins next week.
KIF runner-up Kauai High (7-2-3 KIF) will play Leilehua of the Oahu Interscholastic Federation at 3 p.m. Wednesday in the tournament’s opening round at the Waipio Peninsula Soccer Complex on Oahu.
The Red Raiders are unseeded in the state tourney. If Kauai wins its first round match, it would next play Pac-Five of the Interscholastic League of Honolulu.
“It’s kind of what we expected. From what I hear, the (Hawaii High School Athletic Association) won’t seed anybody that didn’t win their divisions,” Cassler said. “Even with that, there’s only three Division II teams that won their divisions. So, those three teams obviously were seeded.
“Even though Pac-Five on the bracket is seeded fourth, they can’t officially have a seed,” he continued. “For us, drawing Leilehua going into Pac-Five is about the best we could have gotten without a seed. We’re confident in that aspect.”
Kauai High placed sixth at last year’s state tournament.
In last year’s run, the Red Raiders beat OIA’s Nanakuli in the opening round, 8-nil, and lost to the eventual state winner Hawaii Preparatory Academy of the Big Island Interscholastic Federation in the quarterfinal, 1-nil.
In the consolation bracket, Kauai defeated OIA’s Waialua, 3-nil, and lost BIIF’s Kamehameha Schools – Hawaii, 3-1, in the fifth place match.
“I can tell you, the speed of play was definitely much higher. That’s mostly what had killed us last year when we played the state champions HPA, they played much faster and much more aggressive,” said Red Raiders senior defender Kawehi Taniguchi. “It’s something we didn’t train for, and we weren’t used to it last year. We didn’t do conditioning. When we got up there, we weren’t in condition for it.”
Taniguchi added this will be her fourth trip to the state tournament, and each time the team lost to the eventual Division II champion.
“For the most part, I think we’re going to step up. A lot of us here, we really want it,” she said. “Nine of our seniors, some of us have been there three times. … We’ve all been so close. We were really close last year. We competed with the state champions and only lost, 1-0. It was a tight game. I think we can do it.”
Junior defender Kaitlynne Bukoski was injured during states last year. She hopes to have a good showing this time around.
”I can guarantee when we get up there, we’re going to kill it out there. And hopefully, we’re going to try to win. We were really close last year,” Bukoski said.
Cassler, who’s in his first year as the Red Raiders varsity coach, said he doesn’t know a whole lot about the team’s upcoming opponent and isn’t taking them lightly.
“They play in a tough OIA division. They’re playing top Division I teams like Mililani and Pearl City. So, they’re playing against the competition we’d like to be playing against,” Cassler said. “We know they’re going to bring it. That’s just the nature of the OIA and those Oahu teams. They play in tough divisions and playing tough teams. That’s a great preparation for the state tournament.”
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