[ HIGH SCHOOL ]
Punahou turns to
freshman, earns big win
Punahou's toughest task fell on the shoulders of its youngest player yesterday afternoon in Kapalama Heights, where the Buffanblu met Kamehameha in a key Interscholastic League of Honolulu girls soccer match-up.
Even Buffanblu coach Jorge Barbosa didn't envy the assignment of shadowing Kamehameha senior forward India Soo. On this day, that responsibility went to freshman fullback Chelsea Deptula, who led a solid defensive effort in lifting Punahou to a 2-0 victory.
"I wouldn't want to go up against her (Soo)," said Barbosa, whose team improved to 2-0. "The kid has speed, talent, youth ... she's that good. But she (Deptula) kept her cool and shut her down. She came up big."
Deptula had to overcome pre-game jitters, first, however. Only four days ago she was a forward, before being shifted to fullback.
"When I first saw her (Soo), I was a little bit intimidated," said Deptula, who played all 80 minutes yesterday. "I was nervous, since it was my first game with the varsity, but we had good communication, especially from Kelsey (Baker). The whole team really helped out."
Added Barbosa: "She's been playing forward for us, but before our last game I decided to start her at fullback. She's a fantastic forward, but my defense has been ailing with injuries and I decided to move her last Wednesday. She did such a great job that I decided that I have to go with her. She stepped it up and so did Marisa (Schoen). Both freshmen made an impact, and you like to see that."
Punahou senior co-captain Allison Tsuchida opened the scoring in the game's 34th minute when a deflected ball that came by way of a free kick found her directly in front of the net from 15 yards out. She lifted an arching shot that deflected off of the hands of Kamehameha goalkeeper Sarah Maile Vasconcellos and miraculously found the back of the net.
"It was a total team effort throughout the game, and that goal was a good example of it," Tsuchida said. "Everyone was fighting for it, and it came to me. I didn't really see the keeper, so I was just trying to put it on frame."
For a moment, it looked as if Kamehameha (1-1) had tied the score in the game's 51st minute on a rebound by Keomailani Eaton, which had been set up by a free kick. But the play had been ruled off-side, and Punahou goalkeeper Allison Lipsher turned the hosts away for the rest of the afternoon.
"Punahou's keeper (Lipsher) is outstanding, and she's going to come up with the key saves," Kamehameha coach Michele Nagamine said. "In a big game like this, it's going to come down to who can convert their opportunities. We created a lot of opportunities, and if we can't put those away, then that's our bad.
"This is a huge game, and I don't think we really got up for it," she continued. "It took almost one whole half to get things started. We need to be up for the big games, and we need to make sure that we're psyched for it at every position. We clearly weren't up for it, and that's our fault."
Punahou added another score with 15 minutes remaining when Jennifer Lau fought off a Warrior defender to slip the ball past Vasconcellos, who had come out to challenge the shot.
Although he was pleased with his team's effort, Barbosa has kept celebrations among his team to a minimum in the early going this season.
"Every time we finish one, we say, 'Let's get over this one and let's move on,'" he said. "Iolani will be a big game next Saturday. We'd like to think that if we can win the first half, we have a good chance of winning the ILH. That's a big goal. 'One win at a time' is our motto this year."