He’s excitable and dynamic.
When Kawika Kelii is happy, he does a flip in mid-air, and he relishes a chance to celebrate with his teammates as family and Kapolei fans cheer on.
The senior scored Kapolei’s fourth goal on Saturday as the Hurricanes defended their OIA boys soccer crown with a dominating 5-0 win over Kalani. But shortly after his goal, Kelii got into a tussle with a Kalani player and was red-carded.
Kapolei co-head coach Ryan Lau wasn’t sure about what happened, and he is hopeful that video will help the ‘Canes win an appeal if Lau has been suspended for the first match of the upcoming Queen’s Medical Center/HHSAA State Championships at Waipio.
“He has so much passion,” Lau said.
The team has embraced a brotherhood mentality all season, and when the skirmish occurred near mid-field, the entire Kapolei team rushed to the scene. Kalani freshman defender Jenson Fuse was injured on the play and later walked off the field with a trainer.
Either way, the ‘Canes are in a good mood. After accepting the championship plaque, they left the field and went to the locker room. Roughly 15 minutes later, they walked out with a boombox at full blast, celebrating as they headed to the parking lot. Senior Tommy Mascaro-Keahi scored three goals, while Micah Ohara and Kelii scored one each, but this is far from a one-star universe.
“Everyone plays a big role on our team,” Mascaro-Keahi said. “Honestly, when our team is driven to get something, we usually accomplish it. No disrespect to Kalani, but you have to come out with a certain intensity that I don’t think they had from the start.”
The ‘Canes are ready for the next chapter. Co-head coaches Mark Ishii, Neal Sakaue and Lau have 11 days until Kapolei plays in the state quarterfinal round. They’ll rest on Super Bowl Sunday, but then it’s back to work. No OIA team has won the D-I state title since 2015, and Kapolei, a five-time OIA champion, has yet to win a state crown.
“No days off,” Mascaro-Keahi said. “We don’t focus on this after. It’s a great accomplishment for us, but it’s not going to contribute to us winning at states. It’s an accolade. It’s good, but we’ve got to drop it and focus on what’s next. It’s going to be good competition, but I know we’re going to live up to it. I know our team is focused enough to get through this. Never a day off.”
OIA PlayoffsUpdated: Feb. 1
|1/27||Kailua* (E4)||Waianae (W5)||Kail, 2-0|
|1/27||Pearl City (W3)||Kahuku (E6)||PC, 1-0|
|1/27||Kalani** *E3)||Radford (W6)||Kaln, 3-0|
|1/27||Campbell** (W4)||Moanalua (E5)||Moan, 1-0|
|1/28||Kapolei (W1)||Kailua||Kapo, 5-1|
|1/28||Kalaheo*** (E2)||Pearl City||Kalh, 3-1|
|1/28||Mililani**** (W2)||Kalani||Kaln, 2-1 (PKs)|
|1/28||Kaiser (E1)||Moanalua||Kais, 3-0|
|Consolation semifinals — At Pearl City|
|1/29||Kailua||Pearl City||PC, 2-1|
|Semifinals — At Kapolei|
|1/30||Kalani||Kaiser||Kaln, 2-1 (OT)|
|Fifth place — At Aiea|
|1/31||Pearl City||Mililani||Mil, 3-1|
|Third place — At Aiea|
|Championship — At Kapolei|
|First round — At Aiea|
|1/29||Aiea (W2)||Farrington (E3)||Aiea, 3-0|
|1/29||McKinley (E2)||Waialua (W3)||McK, 2-0|
|Semifinals — At Castle|
|1/30||Waipahu (W1)||McKinley||Waip, 2-0|
|1/30||Castle (E1)||Aiea||Aiea, 3-1|
|Third place — At Kapolei|
|2/1||McKinley||Castle||Cas, 2-1 (3-2 PKs)|
|Championship — At Kapolei|
|* — @ Pearl City|
|** — @ Farrington|
|*** — @ Kapolei|
|**** — @ Kaiser|