Leading the way

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island file

    Kapa‘a High’s La‘akea Gonsalves gets a pass off past Kaua‘i High’s Aron Taguiam, La‘i Nai‘he and Jaffi Bautista in the second half of a Kaua‘i Interscholastic Federation boys varsity soccer match at Vidinha Stadium in Lihu‘e earlier this year.

KAPA‘A — Kapa‘a High School boys soccer coach Kevin Cram found his formula for success.

By projecting possible rosters two to three years in advance, it allowed him to field a competitive roster every single year despite personnel changes because of graduation.

The ability to look into the future has resulted in the Warriors participating in eight of the last 12 Hawai‘i High School Division II state soccer championships.

The Warriors have won three of their eight championship appearances and finished runners-up, falling 2-0 to Hawai‘i Prep in this year’s championship game after ending the regular season with an 8-0-2 record.

“I think one of the keys to our success is that we expect a lot from our players,” Cram said. “They have responded, and that has helped make them successful.”

With success came the postseason recognition.

Kapa‘a finished with a total of seven players named to the KIF All-Star team as voted on by the conferences teams’ coaches.

Cram said he was confident after his team won the 2019 state championship.

“I knew the potential for this team was there,” Cram said. “We knew we were going to lose players from the state championship team, but the rest of our team had good underclassmen. We had a good core group to start the year. It was just a matter of filling the other positions, and hoping that we had the talent to make it a success.”

The seven Warriors named to the KIF All-Star team include — Duke Bush (senior, defender), Kaiana Oliver (senior, midfielder), La‘akea Gonsalves (senior, midfielder), Makaio Gonsalves (senior, midfielder), Kellen O’Rourke (junior, utility), Kahanu Davis (senior, defender) and Keanu Brown (senior, utility).

The KIF Player Of The Year is La‘akea Gonsalves and Cram was named Coach Of The Year.

Cram attributes the Warriors’ long-term success to both of the youth soccer leagues in Kaua‘i, including the American Youth Soccer Organization, and the Hawai‘i Youth Soccer Association.

“The youth leagues help prepare some of our players to be successful, including boys from Kapp‘a to Waimea,” Cram said. “It gives them the experience that we can use to mold them into the type of player that we would like to have.”

The preparation for the upcoming winter season hasn’t been affected by the Coronavirus pandemic, Cram said.

“As the season starts, we will have to wait and see what personnel shows up, and what holes we need to fill,” Cram said. “I try to move players to where they feel they can help the team more, and occasionally players in positions they normally don’t play in. When you look at the team’s needs, sometimes you have to make those adjustments.”

Cram hopes when they do get an opportunity to return to the field, they will continue to remain competitive in the KIF conference.

“It is a pleasure for me to work with these student-athletes, and try to bring them to a higher level,” Cram said. “I like to see them succeed, and it keeps me coming back each year.”

KIF Soccer All-Stars

Following are the Kaua‘i Interscholastic Federation boys soccer all-stars, as voted on by the league’s coaches:

• Keeper: Kaimana Moraes, Island School

• Defenders: Kahanu Davis, Kapa‘a; River Owen, Waimea; Josh Graves, Island School; Duke Bush, Kapa‘a; Kaiana Oliver, Kapa‘a

• Midfielders: La‘akea Gonsalves, Kapa‘a; Makaio Gonsalves, Kapa‘a; Carlos Lang, Island School

• Forwards: Makoa Vanaman, Waimea; Kellen O’Rourke, Kapa‘a

• Utility: Keanu Brown Kapa‘a; Nathan Sullivan, Kaua‘i High

• POY: La‘akea Gonsalves, Kapa‘a

• COY: Kevin Cram, Kapa‘a

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