Neither ‘Iolani boys soccer coach Chris Lee nor senior Spencer Ho could remember the last time they lost an ILH game.
You have to go all the way back to 2012, when Ho was a freshman on the varsity team, to find the last loss the Raiders suffered to an ILH opponent.
With apologies to Punahou, which has reached the state tournament in six straight seasons, it is ‘Iolani that has become the standard of excellence in the ILH these last few years.
Since the start of the 2012 season, the Raiders are 30-1-6 in ILH matches and have rattled off 22 straight wins since losing to Kamehameha-Maui in penalty kicks in the 2013 state quarterfinals.
‘Iolani was a perfect 15-0 last year and won its first state championship since 2009, but lost 11 seniors from that team.
It hasn’t been a problem so far as the Raiders are again the top dogs in the ILH, racing out to a perfect 5-0 record. With both Punahou and Kamehameha already with two losses, it looks like ‘Iolani is again the favorite to earn the league’s automatic bye in the Division I state tournament.
“We’re definitely not the same team as last year, for sure, but I like where our team is going,” said Ho, who scored the only goal in a 1-0 win over Kamehameha on Wednesday at Kunuiakea Stadium. “The guys that left (last year), we had played with each other for a couple of years and had gotten used to playing with each other. These (new) guys are all fighting for positions and it’s good competition amongst the team and we’re starting to gain some chemistry together.”
The Raiders have outscored their opponents 23-1 in five matches and shut out both Kamehameha and Punahou so far.
Lee says it’s the entire ‘Iolani program, from the intermediate level all the way up to the varsity, that has been key to his teams’ recent success.
“It starts off with the intermediate and JV programs and trying to keep things consistent throughout so that when the kids come to the ‘Iolani soccer program, they know what to expect when they come up to the varsity level,” Lee said.
Ho, who leads ‘Iolani with four goals, jumped straight to the varsity level as a freshman but has watched and learned from teammates through the years. He is now one of the leaders of this year’s team that is trying to become the first ILH team other than Punahou to win back-to-back Division I state titles.
“I feel a little pressure because we are representing the school, but honestly I feel if my team gives 100 percent and I give 100 percent, whatever happens, we just learn and we just keep going,” Ho said. “I am a little bit pressured but this is another season and another chance to get better.”
‘Iolani’s leading goal scorers
4: Spencer Ho. 3: Dillon Waidyatillka. 2: Alex Liu, Matt Parke, Keoni Simon, Cole Chun, Aaron Yonamine, Shane Casey. 1: Jacob Wagner, Riley Sakamoto, Jason Seto, Keoni-Kordell Makekau, Tanner Shimomoto.