Soccer: Makua Lani’s Shimizu, Kerr sign with Shattuck-St. Mary’s

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The Big Island is quickly becoming a pipeline of soccer talent for one of the top high school programs in the nation — Shattuck-St. Mary’s.

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The Big Island is quickly becoming a pipeline of soccer talent for one of the top high school programs in the nation — Shattuck-St. Mary’s.

Shattuck, located in Minnesota, competes in the United States Development Academy League, the most competitive league for youth players in the nation.

This past summer, the program signed two Big Island high school soccer standouts, pushing the total signed to four over the last few years.

Heading north for the start of school in a couple of weeks are Makua Lani’s Akari Shimizu and Cressy Kerr, who will become the first two female players from the Big Island to complete for Shattuck.

The two Kona Crush players will join fellow Hawaii Island soccer standouts Finn Simmersbach (Hawaii Prep) and Kupaa Fernandez (Konawaena) at the school.

According to Vinnie La Porta, Kona Crush Academy’s Director of Coaching, the duo were given large scholarships to attend, live and play soccer at the school.

For Kerr, soccer proved to be the right route, although she had to battle through some early criticism.

“Her first coach recommend that she seriously look into a different sport,” La Porta said. “Now she’s off to a youth pro development academy — one of the best in the nation.”

Kerr admitted she started soccer late in her youth, which led to the coach’s comments.

“I first went to Kona Crush when they had just one girls team. I wasn’t the best there. I was pretty much the worst. I was kind of the runt of the group,” Kerr said. “But then Vinnie came in and he saw something in me. It took a lot of hours, and I did a lot of training on my own to catch up.”

Kerr and Shimizu were both noticed when Shattuck coach Joe DeMay held a tryout with Kona Crush players. When Kerr showed up, she didn’t intend to actually try out. Instead she was just getting in some extra work on the field.

About a month later she received an email from La Porta saying the school was interested in her.

“It was a very big shock,” said Ron Kerr, Cressy’s father. “It was a very tough decision. I spent hours talking on the phone to the coach and we talked about it as a family to see what she wanted to do. We talked to Vinnie and the coaches at Makua Lani and they all agreed that this was the best move for her, to get off the island and play soccer.”

For Ron, he believes the decision to leave will hit him harder than his daughter.

“She is leaving her friends, but she will make new ones,” he said. “I am the one who is probably going to be weak. She is my daughter.”

Cressy, who is heading into her junior year, agreed with her father that the move is a big opportunity for her and the decision did not come lightly.

“I have lived here my entire life and I am leaving friends, family members and coaches who have made me who I am today,” she said. “I was really nervous about making the decision but knowing that there are two other players from the Big Island there and knowing that Akari is going as well, made the decision a little easier.”

For Shimizu, who is heading into her senior year, the decision to go to Shattuck was just as difficult.

“At first I never really thought about going because it is hard to leave home, but the coach came to me and asked if I would like to come. I talked about it with family and I had their support, so I made the decision to go,” Shimizu said. “It is awesome to have this opportunity to represent the Big Island.”

Shimizu and Kerr’s departure will leave big holes to fill for the Makua Lani girls’ soccer program, but head coach Riley Alcos never wavered in his support of the two girls going to the mainland.

“I encouraged them,” Alcos said. “They asked me about it and I told them that not everyone gets this chance, a chance to play at a high level school and in a high level league. I would never tell them not to take it.”

Alcos believes both players will perform well playing in the USDA league, while calling Shimizu one of the best center-midfielders on the island and Kerr one of the best center-backs.

“Akari’s technical ability is impeccable and every time she steps on the pitch she wants to be better than she was the last time,” Alcos said. “Cressy is very strong mentally and physically. Her decision making and the way she commands the pitch are her greatest strengths. She is very vocal, she knows what she wants and she says what she wants.”

Both girls maintain 4.0 GPA’s and had to take several tests, as well as do several book reviews and essays before being admitted to Shattuck.

Hawaii competes in Surf Cup

The Hawaii Surf Club girls’ soccer team lost 4-3 in the U17 semifinals on penalty kicks to Cal North’s MVLA Milan on July 31 at the Surf Cup in San Diego.

The girls played well early on, coming out strong with a goal in the first minute of play on a corner kick own-goal.

Mililani’s Amber Gilbert scored just before halftime to tie up the game at 2-2. Hawaii Preparatory Academy’s Emi Higgins followed with a score in the second half to put Hawaii up 3-2 with 20 minutes to play.

After Milan tied the game, the teams moved on to PK’s. The Cal North club won the shootout 3-2.

Along with Higgins, the Hawaii Surf Club had several other Big Island soccer players making the trip to California. They were Jenna Perry (HPA), Nanea Wall, Karenza Chavez (Konawaena), Jordyn Pacheco (Hilo), Boo Boo Corpuz (Hilo), Kiara Cuyo (KS-Hawaii) and Kierstyn Yamamoto (Keaau).

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Hawaii went 3-0 in pool play while competing in the top level Girls U17 Super Black division. They defeated San Juan SC 1-0, Southern Cal Blues by forfeit, and SSC Shadow Spokane Sounders 1-0. Gilbert scored the lone goal against Spokane, while Higgins scored the goal against San Juan.

The team also had a chance to experience soccer at the highest level off the field, watching the USA women’s team comeback to beat Brazil, 4-3.

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