KEAAU — The Kamehameha water polo team’s senior celebration couldn’t have been hard to schedule. The Warriors’ last home match of the season was their only home match of the season.
Welcome to a day in the life of the BIIF’s Class of 2021, and spring-sport athletes suffered a double whammy. They had both of their upperclassmen seasons interrupted — if not ruined entirely — because of the pandemic.
“It was definitely really hard because we felt like we were at a peak,” Warriors senior Noe’ula Lindsey said. “After sophomore season ended, we worked through the summer and before the season started. We felt really prepared and really ready, and it getting cut short kind of sucked.”
While this was a far cry from the sendoff Lindsey probably envisioned two years ago, it’s one she can now appreciate.
“It was good that we got to play at all, so I’m really thankful,” Lindsey said Friday.
Kamehameha’s senior day doubled as an appreciation day, and rival Hawaii Prep also was savoring the experience at the other end of Naeole Pool after the Warriors’ 8-6 victory.
In Kamehameha’s 2019 BIIF championship romp, Ka Makani’s Morgan Davis, then a sophomore, scored four goals in a promising performance.
Nothing, it turns out, is promised, especially in regards to the past year.
“It’s definitely been different for sure, but we’ve been able to find a lot of silver linings in everything we’re doing,” said Davis, who also had her final soccer season wiped out. “We’re thanking everyone that’s been here and everyone that’s been coming out. Even the (media) coming out, it’s all been special.”
Ocean Akau was among the seniors to take her ceremonial final shot for Kamehameha, but her better work came during the match. Akau scored six times as the Warriors bounced back from a 12-7 loss in Waimea the week before.
“We got the jitters out the first game,” Akau said. “Being in our own pool definitely helped. We had never played (at HPA) before. Here, there is more space.”
She covered it easily.
Akau powered through three HPA players to give Kamehameha a 5-2 in the third quarter, and one of her goals in the fourth wasn’t as strenuous but was just as spectacular. From the set position with a defender on her back, Akau scored on a no-look backhand.
“That one would probably be my favorite,” said Akau, when prompted.
Lindsey and Waiahuli Akau also scored goals, and Siddalee Amaral played well at goalkeeper. Protecting a 7-5 lead in the fourth, she stonewalled Ali Wawner.
Lindsey said the Warriors got a boost midweek when they scrimmaged against members of the school’s track and field team.
“We did a lot of work on conditioning,” she said. “We kind of went into last week blind. Going in we were super shocked.”
Akau would have been one of the preseason favorites for BIIF player of the year had there been a normal season, and Davis would have made that short list, too.
“Obviously we’re here with our masks on (out of the water), but at least we’re here,” said Davis, who plans to study business administration at Cal Poly. “The girls all appreciate that, so we use that to make us work harder.”
Nursing a shoulder injury, she scored two goals in limited playing time after netting a hat trick April 17. Wawner and Claire Hughes also scored two goals apiece Friday.
There will be no BIIF championships at stake — the Warriors have won eight of the past nine league crowns, Ka Makani the other — but the rubber match is next Saturday in Waimea.
“It’s really good to play them and improve our water polo,” Davis said. “I learn some of their moves, they learn some of mine and we’re able to adapt. We have to figure out new moves and that’s also what’s cool about playing (good) teams over and over. You have to come up with these new plays. Last practice, we came up with some, we tried it out and it ended up working.”