Kahuku stifles Kapolei, 13-4 [updated]
Kahuku goalie Noa Cravens blocks a shot attempt by Kapolei's Mailani Wendt in the third quarter of an OIA second round contest Saturday afternoon. Michael Lasquero | SL
WAIPIO — The 13-time Oahu Interscholastic Association champions flexed their program prestige Saturday afternoon as Kahuku (9-0) stifled Kapolei (8-2), 13-4, in the ScoringLive/Hawaiian Electric Game of the Week at the Veterans Memorial Aquatic Center in the Patsy T. Mink Central Oahu Regional Park.
The Red Raiders' top two leading statistical scorers heading into the game were limited to just two total goals scored on the afternoon as team communication played the key component in Kahuku's attack.
Junior Sophie Wilson wasn't in the top-five of scoring for the Red Raiders at the start of the match, but she came up big in leading the team with a season-high five goals to score Kahuku's third, fourth, seventh, eleventh and twelfth points of the game.
"We're lucky enough to have a lot of girls who are considered top scorers," Kahuku coach Lacy Luehrs said. "They do well defensively and they've been working on their communication so we don't have to rely on just a few girls. We're pretty cohesive as a team."
The state's leading scorer Mailani Wendt scored all four goals for the Hurricanes, but it wasn't enough to defeat the seven-time defending OIA champs.
"I spoke with my team about their defense and I'm really pleased about how they handled it," Luehrs said. "They were kind of able to watch a few of the plays Kapolei was running and they were able to decipher and read what they were doing."
The Hurricanes started strong with scores on their first two possessions. Wendt sniped the back of the net from right side at five-meter and 10-meter marks.
Kahuku's leading scorer Ava Countryman responded quickly with a goal of her own just 14 seconds later.
Michael Lasquero | SL
Again, the Hurricanes took a couple of long-range chances from the middle, but Red Raiders goalkeeper Noa Cravens got the save on both attempts.
With 2:12 left in the first quarter and Kahuku in a man up situation, Kayla Grigsby got some assistance from Izzy Walker and Kea Kunz to set up her equalizer goal three meters out from the left side.
From then on, it was all Red Raiders as they continually bruised their way inside the five-meter line to hit from close-range. They were also able to revolve a few takeaways into quick scores down the other end.
Delilah Tia notched three fourth-quarter goals while fellow juniors Countryman and Grace Rittenhouse each added a pair of points.
Going up against a stingy defense forced the Hurricanes to take more shots from along the perimeter, but mostly to no avail. It wasn't until the final quarter when Kapolei was finally able to get in closer for Wendt to finish it off.
"They have a tendency to shoot from the five meters," Luehrs said about Kapolei's offensive approach. "Once we figured out their patterns, it was easy to read. Communication is key. Because they're able to communicate, they're able to see everything and take care of it."
The win moves the Red Raiders to a nine-win undefeated overall record, and with a 2-0 record in the second round, a potential battle of the unbeatens looms ahead next Saturday where Roosevelt (11-0 overall) waits after going 3-0 in its second-round stand.
Last year, the Rough Riders bested the Red Raiders in the regular season, but lost in the OIA Championship Game and then again in a rather meaningless third-place game at the state tournament.
"We've bumped into Roosevelt a few times over the years so we all kind of know what we're about; what they have and what we have," Luehrs said.
"The main thing I would like for them to have this weekend is to just have focus. Realize what they're doing and why they're playing water polo," she continued. "We look forward to playing them on Saturday."
The match is set for April 15 at 12:20 p.m. at the Veterans Memorial Aquatic Center at CORP.
But before Kahuku can focus on that game, they'll take on Kalaheo (5-5 overall, 0-2 second round) on Wednesday at BYU-Hawaii on the North Shore. A Red Raiders-win would guarantee a top six finish in the winner's bracket and a spot in the OIA Tournament.