LIHUE — An on-field incident led to a Kauai Interscholastic Federation varsity boys soccer match between Kapaa and Waimea high schools to be suspended.
The Wednesday incident was described as an altercation between individual players that led to the benches clearing.
Kapaa High School varsity boys soccer head coach Kevin Cram said there was some pushing and talking that took place between players, but he doesn’t believe it became a fight.
“I don’t think that’s an accurate description. I think just as it took a few moments for things to get settled in and people stood up and went, but in terms of a brawl-type situation or punches thrown, it didn’t escalate to that point,” Cram said.
“To me, it would be more the point of, ‘Something’s happening. Let’s go see what it is.’ When somebody says, ‘benches cleared,’ that would be more of an accurate description in that, ‘Let’s go over and see what’s happening,’ rather than, ‘We’re all getting involved and escalating it.’”
The Kapaa coach added he understands the officials’ decision to put off the match.
“I can see the referees standpoint to terminate the game at that time,” he said. “I don’t know. I can only speak for my team, my boys. I think they were pretty much under control. But because of the tensions and the feelings, I think the referees chose to terminate the game.”
Waimea was leading, 1-0, midway through the first half at the time of suspension.
Punishments are yet to be determined, though it’s expected to be figured out this week.
Whether the game will be resumed is also to be determined.
“It is an unfortunate incident. I’m just trying to think how it could be prevented,” Cram said. “As a coach, I only have responsibility and influence over my team members, and I would hope that they understand what my attitude is toward the style of play and what I expect out of them on the field. We’re just training them to be good soccer players and good citizens.”
Waimea High School assistant coach Kapono Chong-Hanssen was the team’s acting head coach during Wednesday’s match. He said head coach Mark Kennett wasn’t present.
Chong-Hanssen said there was physical play and that he rushed to step in and try to diffuse the incident when tensions heightened.
“They started off in a situation where they were getting physical with each other within the rules of the game. It went back and forth, and each time, the player was escalating it,” Chong-Hanssen said. “It got to the point where the two of them were having a physical altercation. I think the two of them were on the field when it happened, but it quickly spilled off of the field.
“Once I saw that happen, I ran over as quickly as I could and I got involved. And the benches pretty quickly cleared after that. But they didn’t go on the field for the most part. I think they were heading toward where that altercation was. I know a lot of people were involved, a lot of players from both teams, but I didn’t really see all the details of who did what.”
The Waimea coach added the match itself was played well until the incident occurred.
“We played Island School before this. We put out such a poor effort. And so in the game leading up to (the altercation), I was proud of how our players bounced back. We were playing hard against Kapaa, and Kapaa was performing well,” Chong-Hanssen said.
Nick Celario, sports writer, can be reached at 245-0437 or firstname.lastname@example.org.