KIF championKapaa girls set for Division II tournament

KAPAA — The Warrior wahine clinched their third consecutive Kauai Interscholastic Federation title and a spot at states more than a week ago.

The regular season ended last weekend, but the team is still hard at work.

“The season this year, this is a great bunch of girls,” said Kapaa varsity girls soccer head coach Mytra McKeague during practice Friday at Kapaa Beach Park.

“We have eight seniors, and actually four of them started as freshmen. So, they’ve been in the program for four years. This year going into the season, we talked about a few things we wanted to get from them. One of them was accountability on playing. I think they’re executing that well. The other one was playing as instructed. Doing those two things, the girls are really adapting to the style of play.”

Kapaa High School’s varsity girls soccer team (11-1-0 KIF) will again make the trip to Oahu for The Queen’s Medical Center Girls Soccer Championships – Division II state tournament, which begins Wednesday at the Waipio Peninsula Soccer Complex.

“It’s been one of the best seasons. Out of all the four years I’ve been on the team, this is the strongest team, for sure,” said senior midfielder Natalie Devin. “We’re really tight. In school, out of school, we’re really close together. It helps a lot on the field.”

Seedings and schedules have yet to be released by the Hawaii High School Athletic Association.

“A lot of (experienced players). We also have a few new faces,” McKeague said. “It’s going to be fun. This year, it’s going to be a competitive tournament, it looks like. The brackets aren’t out yet. But just by word of mouth, it’s looks like it’s going to be a fun one.”

Four Warrior seniors are about to make their fourth appearance at states: Devin, midfielder Vanessa Hernandez, defender Emily Johnson and goalkeeper Nygeria Williams.

“It’s kind of hard to judge up there because we don’t know what we’re going to face,” Williams said. “So, I would say that (is the big difference at states) — we don’t know what to expect really, so we can’t underestimate anyone.”

Last year, Kapaa was seeded No. 2 at the tournament and finished tied for third place with fellow KIF representative Kauai High.

En route to playing to a 1-1 draw with the Red Raiders in the third place match, Kapaa beat Makua Lani of the Big Island Interscholastic Federation in the quarterfinals, 2-1, and lost BIIF’s Kamehameha Schools-Hawaii, 2-1, on penalty kicks.

“I think we’re all really experienced there,” Devin said. “We know that the competition is going to be a lot higher than it is here on the island. I think we practice up to that level. So, we’re ready for the competition.”

It will be some time from when the regular season ended up to when the tournament starts Wednesday. In the meantime, McKeague said, intensity has picked up in recent practices.

“We try to mimic the state tournament,” she said. “We’re not going to have a game in two weeks. That being said, we got to create game situations so that they’re ready.”

Devin said unlike previous years, this year’s Warriors squad truly believes the team can go all the way.

“We’ve all talked about it. This is probably the first year we’re going into it actually believing that we can win, instead of thinking how far we can get,” she said. “We all believe that we have a chance.”

Williams added if the team takes home the Division II crown, she thinks the feeling would be “surreal.”

“The last two years (and) losing in the semifinals. If we were to follow though senior year and finish strong, that would be amazing,” she said.

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