HANAPEPE — The Kauai High School girls soccer team had just one day of practice before meeting the Hilo High School Vikings Saturday at Hanapepe Stadium.
But the Red Raiders managed to battle back against a 3-0 halftime deficit to finish with a 6-4 loss despite a flurry of late-game goals, taking advantage of Hilo’s goalkeeper withering in the rapidly rising Hanapepe heat.
“I liked what we saw out there today,” said Joseph Cassler, the Kauai High School coach. “We just formed the team Thursday and had just one practice together before meeting Hilo. Today was not about the score, but to take a look at how the girls handle the different positions.”
Following initial jockeying to feel each other out, Hilo got down to business when Miya Clarke netted a first half hat trick, or three goals scored, to give the Vikings a comfortable break, and a well-deserved break against the hard-pressing Red Raiders.
“We lost nine seniors last year,” Cassler said. “But we have some solid underclassmen so the girls are looking pretty good.”
Clarke worked the play book for her goals, closing the door on a long ball from the defense for the first score. Her second goal came on an assist from Alyeemomi Amaral who drew the Kauai defense to the wing, and on a cross to Clarke, closed the door at the 17th minute. A strong breakaway on the right wing gave Clarke her hat trick at the 38th minute.
Less than 12 minutes later, Clarke added her fourth goal, taking advantage of Kauai’s mis-play of the ball at the 49th minute.
Kauai got its break at the 53rd minute when the Hilo goalkeeper could not field a Raider corner kick and Kaya Ramirez was in position to boot in the ball.
Ramirez finished with two goals for Kauai, and Kahela Ventura added a pair of goals to keep the audience riveted to the new bleachers at Hanapepe Stadium, Ventura getting her goals on a breakaway and winning a challenge with the Hilo keeper. Ramirez’s second goal came on a penalty kick.
Hilo coach Skee Saplan said the goal of the team is to get the girls to play a new formation to make up for the lack of height, especially when playing against Oahu teams who have no shortage of tall girls.
“We also have two new coaches — Matthew Komata and Chloe Nishioka,” said Curtis Chong, a Hilo assistant coach. “This gives them opportunity to work with the girls so everyone is comfortable.”
Cassler said Kauai will be heading to Hilo Thursday to play in a tournament there.
“Friday, we start play against Kamehameha-Hawaii, Hawaii Preparatory Academy and Kealakehi,” Cassler said.
No scores were available by press time from the Waimea match which started at 3:30 p.m.
The Kauai Interscholastic Federation girls soccer season is scheduled to start Dec. 3 with Kauai and Kapaa doing battle at Vidinha Stadium, the junior varsity starting at 10 a.m. and the varsity going at 11:45 a.m.
Island School, who did not field a team against Hilo, will be traveling to Hanapepe Stadium for a meeting with Waimea High School, the varsity games starting at 10 a.m. Waimea will not be fielding a girls JV team for this season.