Thursday | December 14, 2017
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BIIF soccer: Hilo girls in Oahu state of mind

In the foreground, many members of Hilo High’s girls soccer team ran around the school track.

Still in the infancy stages of their season, the Vikings don’t have full use of the field, because, in the background, the football team practiced on the infield, gearing up for the final stages of its season.

Two vastly different sports, two different seasons of the year, one singular mentality.

Naturally, the football team, bound for Oahu, is thinking state title or bust – but the girls soccer team’s aspirations aren’t that far behind.

“Our goal is to make it past the first round of states,” junior Kalamanamana Harman said as she surveyed the scene earlier this week. “We’re at that level.”

Coach Skee Saplan refers to it as the “dreaded” first round of the HHSAA Division I tournament.

The Vikings have run into the eventual state champion, Pearl City in 2016 and Iolani last season, in the quarterfinals each of the past two years.

“As much as you don’t want to put your focus on to states, you really have to plan for it,” Saplan said. “Hope that we do well enough (in the BIIF) to make it to (states), but really turn our focus on how can we do better there.”

In every other respect, Saplan, in his third year, and his junior-heavy bunch are far ahead of schedule, bagging consecutive BIIF titles with only one league loss to show for their troubles. The Vikings have rebounded twice at states to win a consolation match, once a forbidden fruit for the program.

“We have our goals,” Saplan said. “What do you do in your third year?”

For one, he can watch his dizzying array of third-year talent continue to grow.

With essentially one starter to replace, the roster was already the envy of the BIIF and it’s been bolstered thanks to three transfers from Waiakea.

“I’m very blessed,” Saplan said.

Fleet-footed strikers in Miya Clarke (nine goals, seven assists last season), the league’s D-I Player of the Year, and Jordyn Pacheco (seven, seven), play alongside with senior Alyeemomi Amaral (eight goals) up top.

If there is a freshman to watch this season, it could be Samantha Chung, who performed well last weekend as Hilo finished 3-1 during a preseason tour on Kauai.

Hilo outscored its opponents 45-10 with seven shutouts in finishing 11-3-1 last season, but its goal production fell from the previous season. The Vikings possessed the ball, their coach said, but that didn’t always translate to goals.

Offensively “we’re coming together and being more confident and taking shots,” Harman said. “I saw that during the preseason games (on Kauai). We took our shots from farther out from where we usually scored.”

Harman is a burgeoning two-way threat. An all-BIIF fullback last season, she scored once during the regular season before putting home her penalty kick as the Vikings edged the Warriors in shootout in the championship game.

She’ll move up to try and control the midfield along with Hollie Saplan (three goals), Haley Miyasato (six) is a threat at multiple positions, and senior Lacey Shiigi provides depth at midfield as well.

Karla Ishii remains in place as a stalwart on the backline and goalkeeper Saydee Bacdad is the ultimate defensive backbone at goalkeeper.

“Hopefully, they’re one year older, smarter, stronger and faster,” Skee Saplan said.

And what do you give the coach who seemingly has it all?

How about three players from your closest rival: sophomore Booboo Corpuz is expected to find a home at center fullback, senior Kiana Corpuz will provide immediate help at midfield and sophomore Nanea Rabang can pinch in up top or in the midfield.

“The three of them play club soccer with us, so it’s easy for us to communicate with them on the field,” Harman said. “They have improved the team a lot, because we know we can trust them.”

Along with Clarke and Harman, Saplan, Miyasato, Ishii, Booboo Corpuz and Bacdad also made all-BIIF last season.

Heading into Hilo’s annual Big Island Candies Hilo Bay Classic, which runs Friday-Sunday at three fields, fullback is the most unsettled position, but their are a number of options, including sophomore Paige Hiraki and junior Glory Medeiros.

Dalia Cruz-Murray comes up from the junior varsity to give the Vikings a fourth senior.

The pieces are in place. It’s just a matter of finding the right fit for the BIIF – and beyond.

“They’ve been working really hard,” Skee Saplan said. “We’ve upped the intensity and they’ve been eating it up.

“The dynamic pretty much is the same. Very competitive, very focused and just very eager. They all agree that we need to get better.”

Friday

At Hilo Bayfront

Boys, Hilo vs. Waiakea, 4 p.m.

Amauulu Field

Girls, Hilo vs. Roosevelt, 4 p.m.

At Paiea Stadium

Boys, Kamehameha vs. Kauai, 4 p.m.

Girls, Kamehameha vs. Kauai, 6 p.m.

Saturday

At Hilo Bayfront

Girls, Hawaii Prep vs. Roosevelt, 9 a.m.

Boys, Konawaena vs. Kealakehe, 11 a.m.

Girls, Honokaa vs. Kauai, 1 p.m.

Boys, Waiakea vs. Kealakehe, 3 p.m.

Boys, Kohala vs. Hilo B, 3 p.m.

At Amauulu Field

Boys, Kamehameha vs. Waiakea, 9 a.m.

Boys, Hawaii Prep vs. Kauai, 11 a.m.

Boys, Hawaii Prep vs. Konawaena, 3 p.m.

At Paiea Stadium

Girls, Kamehameha vs. Hilo, 4 p.m.

Boys, Kamehameha vs. Hilo, 6 p.m.

Sunday

At Hilo Bayfront

Girls, Kauai vs. Roosevelt, 9 a.m.

Boys, Kauai vs. Honokaa, 9 a.m.

Boys, Kohala vs. Kealakehe B, 11 a.m.

Boys, Honokaa vs. Kealakehe B, 1 p.m.

Boys, Hilo vs. Kealakehe, 3 p.m.

Boys, Kohala vs. Konawaena, 3 p.m.

At Amauulu Field

Girls, Hilo vs. Honokaa, 1 p.m.

 

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