A sea of red

  • Courtesy

    The Kaua‘i High girls varsity soccer team beams after a tournament. The Red Raiders finished second in the Hawai‘i High School Athletic Association 2020 Queen’s Medical Center Girls Soccer Championships in early February at the Waipio Peninsula Soccer Complex near Waipahu on O‘ahu.

LIHU‘E — The Kaua‘i High School girls soccer team had one of the best seasons in their program’s history, and their postseason awards reflect that.

For the first time since 2011, the Red Raiders’ soccer program made it to the Hawai‘i High School Athletic Association state championship game.

Kaua‘i fell short in their quest for a state championship, falling 4-1 to Hawai‘i Preparatory Academy of Hawi‘i Island, but had five players recognized on the Kaua‘i Interscholastic Federation All-Star list.

Red Raiders’ senior midfielder Eryka Napoleon was named Player Of The Year.

Other Kaua‘i players receiving recognition as All-Stars include Mia Takekuma (senior, forward), Kassidie Bukoski (senior, midfielder), Tia Fulks (senior, defender) and Kaleonahe Bukoski (sophomore, defender).

Waimea High School girls’ soccer coach Shelby Erdmann was named KIF Coach of the Year, as voted on by the coaches.

Erdmann guided Waimea to a record of 4-8-3, with a KIF record of 1-6-3, and the three ties were enough to get the Menehune playoff consideration.

Napoleon is currently the only Red Raider that has secured an athletic scholarship, and signed with George Fox University, a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics team in Newberg, Oregon.

Red Raiders’ coach Chance Bukoski said it is more important to him that his players gain collegiate opportunities than winning an HHSAA Division II title.

“I could care less if they are winning or losing. It’s about getting the kids out of here,” Bukoski said. “Kaua‘i as an island is doing well at the state tournaments, and there are lots of individual girls pursuing soccer careers.”

Other Red Raider players are currently looking into scholarship options, but their opportunities were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Bukoski.

Many of the KIF players who go to mainland showcases are unable to attend to get additional looks from colleges because of travel restrictions related to COVID-19, Bukoski said.

The Red Raiders finished with a 13-1 regular season, and an 11-0 KIF record.

“Kaua‘i has always been quite competitive in its primary sports, and so has island girls soccer in general,” Bukoski said. “They are good, and it’s just a matter of getting them exposed to a higher level of play in O‘ahu, and on the mainland.”

Bukoski attributed the Red Raiders’ success to the team chemistry they’ve developed playing together as a group since youth soccer.

“A lot of our players have been together as a group of girls playing on the same team, and are familiar with each other since they were 7 or 8 years old,” Bukoski said. “They built team chemistry that is very hard to come by, especially at the high school level.”

KIF Girl’s Soccer All-Stars

• Editor’s note: The following is a list of the Kaua‘i Interscholastic Federation girls’ soccer all-stars selected by the KIF coaches:

Keeper: Kepler Niccore, Waimea

Defenders: Kaleonahe Bukoski, Kaua‘i; Tori Santiago, Waimea; Tia Fulks, Kaua‘i; Katie Cook, Island School

Midfielders: Eryka Napoleon, Kaua‘i; Mehana Kamalani, Kapa‘a; Kassidie Bukoski, Kaua‘i; Tori Ishikawa, Kapa‘a

Forwards: Mia Takekuma, Kaua‘i; Talia Washington, Kapa‘a; Jasmine Semblante, Waimea

Utility: Tavehi Dubocage, Kapa‘a

POY: Eryka Napoleon, Kaua‘i

COY: Shelby Erdmann, Waimea

•••

Jason Blasco, sports reporter, can be reached at 245-0437 or jblasco@thegardenisland.com.

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