HIGH SCHOOL REPORT
FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
The Pearl City girls soccer team uses a platoon style of substitution, and it works for the Chargers, who average six goals a match.
On the attack
The platoon system proves to be a success for the Pearl City girls
WHEN coaches Frank Baumholtz III and Tracee Kono prepared for this season, they found a reason to take a detour.
The Pearl City girls soccer coaches decided to stray from the approach that resulted in 16 straight state tournament berths. Aware of the team's wealth of offensive talent, Pearl City decided to platoon its attackers and attacking midfielders, creating a situation rare for the Chargers, and soccer in general, a platoon offense.
"We knew we had 12 pretty talented players that could play on the offensive side this year," Baumholtz said. "Instead of just sticking to a set lineup who got the bulk of the time, we felt it was a better idea to go with this. What we have done this year is swapped six players at a time -- we call them team one and team two. About every eight to 10 minutes, we change the whole offense, and the results have been pretty good."
The results for the Chargers this year, in fact, have been very good, as they outscored the opposition 60-3 during a 9-0-1 regular season. Pearl City's goal total is the highest among all Oahu high schools.
"It was pretty much all Frank's idea," Kono said. "He knew we had a lot of talent up front, and he wanted to find a way to get them all substantial playing time. I had some concerns as to how the girls would receive it, but as they started to see the results, everyone could understand the benefits."
SELLING THE CONCEPT to the players, including top talents such as Lauren Maeshiro -- a Star-Bulletin All-State second-team pick as a sophomore in 2004 -- and Carissa Calpo, went well after initial concerns.
"Over the past few years we always had a set lineup, so when Coach told us about it, some people were worried about playing time," said co-captain Maeshiro.
While it was a cause for concern at first, Pearl City's "line change" on offense has increased the competitive level and intensity of the Charger offense in practices and matches, and has given opponents cause for a lot of frustration.
"When you know you only have a few minutes to play at a time, you really want to make the most of your time," Maeshiro said. "So whichever team is in there, all of our players can go all out, because we know that no matter what, we're always gonna have fresh legs in the game. The other teams can't sub out their whole defense."
Fellow co-captain Nestle Yamaguchi agreed.
"It makes it really tough on the other team's defenses," Yamaguchi said. "Not only do they have to adjust to two offenses with different styles every few minutes, but they have to defend a team that's going hard the whole time. Both of our offensive teams are talented, and they're both trying to do better than the other, so they're playing hard all the time.
"In one game this year, we scored 11 goals. One (platoon) scored five and the other scored six, and that's how it's been all year. It's a friendly competition."
Despite decreased playing time for the forwards, Pearl City's offense has been as impressive as ever, averaging almost seven goals per match.
The change in approach hasn't hurt individual efforts either, as three Chargers -- Calpo (11 goals), Megan Fuller (10), and Maeshiro (7) -- are among the OIA scoring leaders.
FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Tawnee Sakima went through some drills during the Chargers' practice earlier this week.
"Most teams will have a player or two who you may choose to mark," Baumholtz said. "I think our depth has helped us in that respect, too. We've had 13 different players score for us this year, and the amazing thing is that both of our offensive units have scored almost equal amounts of goals."
EVEN WITH AN interchangeable attack, Pearl City still relies on several offensive standouts to lead the way.
"Lauren is a key for us up front," Baumholtz said. "She played on the outside in the past, but this year she's played in the middle and has done a good job distributing the ball for us, and Carissa and Megan have proven they can score. Annie Ochiai and Michelle Maeda have been good at center half, and Keilyn Tanimoto has done a really good job for us on the outside."
Pearl City has been strong on the defensive side of the field as well this season, allowing just three goals in 10 contests to lead all of Oahu in that category.
"Our defense is really anchored by Nestle," Baumholtz said. "She plays dual roles for us as a center fullback and a defensive central midfielder, and she does a good job. Amy Tanaka has been one of our top defenders, and we often have her mark one of the other team's top strikers, and Valerie Ochoa has returned this season and has been a real surprise. Our keeper, Kari Miyasato is a just a sophomore, and she made some really big saves in our tie with Aiea."
AS COULD BE presumed about a team with co-head coaches, co-captains and a platoon system on offense, the Chargers rely on a team-first attitude and look to maintain that focus in the postseason.
"I think we have a chance to do well at OIAs and states," Yamaguchi said. "We have a lot of potential, the coaches are doing their part and we've been working pretty hard. We just need to stick together."
And there's no doubt that Baumholtz and the rest of the Chargers would love to stick to their script and earn a shot at the school's fifth state title.
"We've come a long, long way since the preseason to be where we're at, and that's all thanks to the coaches," Maeshiro said. "Coach B is really strict on us and he has really high expectations for us, and it's really hard to satisfy him. But whenever we do, it feels that much better.
"If we are gonna do anything in the playoffs, we have to work as a team, as we have all year."