Kapolei was like a buzz saw Thursday night in a 5-1 romp over Kaiser in the OIA boys soccer semifinals at Kaiser Stadium.
Overflowing with quickness, defense, creativity and flat-out speed, the Hurricanes will move on to the OIA championship on Saturday in the final against Mililani, which beat Kalani 3-2.
“They’re a great team with a lot of experience,” Cougars coach Layne Abalos said about Kapolei. “I thought they were going to go far last year, but they lost in the (state) quarterfinals. They look a lot better this year. Really quick.”
Joe Wren scored twice for the Hurricanes (11-1) and Kawika Kelii added a goal and an assist.
“Our mantra is ’22,’ which is the full team together,” Wren, a junior, said. “We really want to emphasize playing as a team and always having the willingness to compete.”
Kelii is one of the motors in the middle, along with senior Sam Wren, Joe’s older brother.
“Kawika is outstanding,” Hurricanes co-head coach Ryan Lau said. “He’s a former youth national team pool player. He is great not only technically and athletically, but also has a great tactical savvy about him. He can read the game and find the pockets.
“Sam is a four-year product and comes from a great family,” Lau added about the older Wren, who committed to play for UNLV next season. “We’ve established a great foundation here at Kapolei and it really helps to have a leader on the field who embodies everything the coaching staff is looking for. Sam takes that role for us. He’s a great leader. He’s excellent in the classroom, an excellent player and the guys have so much respect for him.”
It won’t be an easy task for the Hurricanes to add a fourth OIA championship to the list on Saturday at Kaiser Stadium.
“We’ve been watching a lot of game film,” Joe Wren said. “They’re a great team with players who are good in the air and also on the ground. We’ll be looking to play our game and focus on ourselves.”
Kapolei’s only loss this season came against Mililani 1-0 on Dec. 18.
“At this point, it’s about us,” Lau said. “We really have focused on long-term objectives, hammering it home at practices and games, gearing up to being successful at tournament time.”
The Hurricanes won OIA crowns in 2007, ’11 and ’17. They will also be in the field at the Division state tournament and will be going for a first championship there.
Kaiser’s Abalos is far from disappointed with his Cougars (10-2).
“We’re really young, but we held in there,” he said. “For only two seniors starting (Nathan Magee and Joshua Lopez), we played pretty good. We have about three juniors starting and the rest are freshmen and sophomores. Plus, we lost our whole starting 11 (to graduation) from last year. The OIA semifinals? We’re not supposed to be here. We were outmatched by Kapolei.”
The Cougars play Kalani in the league’s third-place match Friday at Castle.
OIA PlayoffsUpdated: Jan. 26
|1/21||Campbell||Moanalua||Camp, 2-1 (5-4 PKs)|
|1/21||Pearl City**||Kahuku||PC, 5-1|
|1/22||Kaiser||Pearl City||Kais, 3-2|
|Consolation semifinals — At Castle|
|1/23||Roosevelt||Pearl City||PC, 3-0|
|Semifinals — At Kaiser|
|Fifth place — At Castle|
|1/25||Campbell||Pearl City||PC, 3-1|
|Third place — At Castle|
|Championship — At Kaiser|
|First round — At Farrington|
|1/23||Aiea||Farrington||Aiea, 1-0 (OT)|
|Semifinals — At Kailua|
|Third place — At Kaiser|
|1/26||Waipahu||Aiea||Waip, 1-0 (PKs)|
|Championship — At Kaiser|
|* — @ Campbell|
|** — @ Roosevelt|
|*** — @ Mililani|
|**** — @ Kaiser|