Kahuku keeps dynasty going in water polo
DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARADVERTISER.COM
Kahuku beats Roosevelt 9-8 in the second overtime period (they were tied 7-7 in regulation) to win the OIA girls water polo championship that was held at Central Oahu Regional Park pool.
Kayla Grigsby bided her time, all right.
When her moment arrived, the junior was ready. Grigsby’s goal with four seconds left in the second overtime lifted Kahuku over Roosevelt 9-8 for the Oahu Interscholastic Association girls water polo championship on Saturday afternoon at Patsy Mink Central Oahu Regional Park.
The crown is Kahuku’s eighth in a row. The Lady Raiders have won 14 of the 15 titles since the sport became an official championship event in the OIA during the 2003 season.
Grigsby hadn’t scored all game long, but with Roosevelt down a defender because of an ejection — in water polo, an ejected player is sent to a penalty box for designated time but can return — Kahuku’s Ava Countryman (three goals) drew plenty of attention.
Goalie Noa Cravens, who had an incredible backhanded deflection among her six saves, didn’t hesitate to feed Grigsby.
“I had faith that she would make it. Even from the weak side, she can make that goal,” the senior co-captain said.
Coach Larisa Luehrs was exhausted after the team celebrated in postgame. She sat on a bench, both hands over her head. Roosevelt, the East’s top seed, had beaten Kahuku recently during the regular season.
“I’m very proud of our team. Roosevelt is great at defense and dropping back, and they have excellent shooters,” said Luehrs, an ’05 Kahuku graduate. “We had a power-play opportunity and Kayla has a really strong shot from that position.”
Grigsby was almost speechless.
“I got the ball and shot it open corner (of the goal). I’m happy and excited,” she said. “That’s all I can’t think of right now.”
It was almost Roosevelt’s title to own. The Rough Riders scored twice in the final 2:50 of regulation to tie the score. April Gomes scored to cut the score to 7-6, and Taylor Brooks (three goals) scored with 1:10 to go, tying the game at 7.
Gomes, who scored a match-high six goals, had an open look from 12 feet out straightaway with five seconds left in regulation. Her shot caromed off the crossbar and the match entered extra periods.
The first extra period was scoreless, but Roosevelt took an 8-7 lead in the second extra period when Gomes scored with 2:28 remaining.
Kahuku tied the game at 8, then stopped Roosevelt with less than a minute to go. After Roosevelt’s foul and ejection of a player, and a timeout, the Lady Raiders set up their winning play.
Roosevelt had a final shot from beyond the midline, but it was stopped short of the goal by Cravens at the final horn.
“I’m sad. We had many opportunities,” Roosevelt coach Susan Nishioka said. “During the whole match, we had a lot of opportunities.”
Roosevelt goalie Rei Yamamoto had four saves.
Roosevelt is the only team other than Kahuku to win the OIA title, back in ’09 under Nishioka.
Both teams have already qualified for the Stanford Carr Development/HHSAA State Championships, which begin on May 1.
Championship: Kahuku 9, Roosevelt 8 OT
Goal Scorers—Kahuku: Ava Countryman 3, Hannah Smith, Kayla Grigsby, Makenna Beck, Kea Kunz, Izzy Walker, Grace Rittenhouse. Roosevelt: April Gomes 5, Taylor Brooks 2, Tristyn Oki.
3rd Place Game: Kalani 6, Kapolei 3
Goal Scorers—Kalani: Charity Lopes 5, Helen Park. Kapolei: Mailani Wendt 2, Taylor Goeas.
5th Place Game: Kaiser 8, Waialua 2
Goal Scorers—Kaiser: Alana Ako 2, Pele Pelesasa, Danielle Georgia, Bay Hamby, Erin Patterson, Taylor Kuroiwa, Kanoko Niimura. Waialua: Lorena Wilkinson, Sierra Lyon.