KAILUA-KONA — Led by senior co-captain Teddy Rubenstein’s hat trick, the Kealakehe boys soccer team cruised past visiting Keaau on Saturday at Waverider Stadium. Kealakehe also received two goals from Matthew Enriques in the 8-0 victory.
Enriques and Kaisei Kelly form a freshman duo making an early impact with the Waveriders, including a 1-1 tie against Waiakea in the opening game of the BIIF season.
“My freshmen are stepping up big,” said Kealakehe first-year head coach Hayato Fukumitsu. “They are playing against some big boys and have been able to respond.”
During the eight-goal assault on the Cougars, Kealakehe also saw positive steps taken by senior co-captain Eima Kozakai, who missed nearly a year of playing time due to an injury suffered last season. Kozakai was able to score a goal against Keaau.
“He went out last season with a broken foot, so it was nice to see him get back on the scoreboard,” Fukumitsu said. “He is a great asset and being out for such a long time, he needs to shake off some of the rust. The more he gets involved, the better chance we will have.”
Fukumitsu is happy with what he has seen with the team so early in the season, which includes the Ka Makaki Classic preseason tournament, which took place the weekend after Thanksgiving.
“This is a great start,” he said. “We are making sure we are checking our boxes each game and playing the way we are supposed to play. We are taking care of the ball and learning lessons that will help us later on.”
Against Waiakea, Fukumitsu believed his team could have come away with a win. Kealakehe was trailing by one late in the second half when sophomore Alex Bell found the back of the net on a through ball over the top.
“We could have won that game but no loss is better than a loss,” Fukumitsu said. “I’ll take a tie — for now.”
Next up for the Waveriders is a rivalry match with Hawaii Preparatory Academy. The reigning Division I champion and three-time consecutive title holding Ka Makani squad will provide Fukumitsu’s toughest challenge yet.
“I’m sure a lot of people are looking forward to this game… and we are too,” Fukumitsu said. “I love competition. They are the best competition on the island, and if we could play them every week that would be good. We would get better and keep sharpening the blade.”
Fukumitsu stands in the way of Kealakehe’s goals of winning the BIIF championship and reaching the state tournament this year, but Fukumitsu knows the season is just getting started.
“Both of us will walk away from this game learning from each other and ourselves,” he said. “We train hard to play the big teams. Those are the ones we wake up for.”
Kealakehe will host Hawaii Prep at 5 p.m. Wednesday.
Kealakehe 5, Keaau 0
The Kealakehe girls are a perfect 2-0 on the season after a victory over Keaau on Saturday. The Waveriders were led by two goals from sophomore captain Audrey Weir.
Weir helped lead Kealakehe to victory with the help of co-captains Sachi “Lulu” Isobe (senior) and Aaliyah “Ki’i” Aukai-Takata (sophomore).
“Ki’i has played soccer and competitive sports since she was small and it is the same with Audrey,” said head coach Kim Evans. “Both traveled with teams and have seen competition in other states. They have more experience.”
“Lulu started when I started and she wasn’t even a soccer player at the time,” Evans added. “When I met her she danced hula and was not sure if she could commit. Now she is starting, plays midfield, and we are also trying her up top. She is a veteran with the team and has seen the changes the team has went through.”
Over the four-year timeline Isobe and Evans have been with the program, the biggest change the pair has seen is the incoming skill level of the girls trying out for the program.
“The number of girls who have come out and have returned is higher, but they also have a higher level of skill,” Evans said. “The girls are coming in more fit and we are able to require them to do more in tryout week because they are doing more work in the offseason.”
The Waveriders have cruised to victory in their first two games of the season, but next up will be a challenge in Konawaena. The timing could not be more perfect, with Kealakehe finally able to dress their full squad for the game, which will be held on Dec. 12.
“Konawaena is a speedy team but we have some speed too, and more depth than we have had in the past,” Evans said. “The game could go either way. Our girls are capable of winning, they just have to have the confidence.”