HIGH SCHOOL WATER POLO
Unbeaten Kahuku topples Roosevelt
A little of the old and a little of the new brought a smile to Kahuku coach Makana Whitford's face.
Freshman Brooke Roy had four goals and two assists, and senior Gina Ahue tallied three goals, two assists and two steals as Kahuku overpowered Roosevelt 9-4 last night for the Oahu Interscholastic Association water polo championship.
The win in Veterans Memorial Aquatic Center at Patsy T. Mink Central Oahu Regional Park gave Kahuku (16-0) its sixth league crown in a row.
"We had some ups and downs, but they also did some amazing things," Whitford said.
Ahue was stoked for her coach.
"It feels good. We really wanted to win this for Makana. It's her first year," she said.
Roosevelt (13-3) -- with goals by Pearl Yun, Leticia Ruiz, Jennifer Honda and Taesha-Marie Keola -- presented some unique problems.
"I knew they'd take a lot of lob shots," Whitford said, citing specific concerns about Keola, who finished with just four shot attempts, as did Bori Stoytcheva.
In all, Roosevelt missed 26 times against a physical, relentless Kahuku defense. Lady Raiders goalkeeper Ella Aiwohi was sterling with 19 saves, many in 1-on-1 situations. Kahuku missed just 11 shots.
"Kahuku is always a tough competitor," Roosevelt coach Susan Nishioka said.
Roy was efficient and precise. She needed only six shot attempts to score her four goals.
"She's awesome. She surprised me this year," Whitford said. "I knew she had the skills. I didn't know she would fit in so maturely with the seniors."
Ahue's first goal, a bullet from 15 yards out, gave Kahuku a 1-0 lead with 4:47 left in the first quarter. Roosevelt scored nearly 3 minutes later on Keola's 10-yard shot off a pass from Chyla Houghtailing-Ramos.
With 6:27 to go in the second quarter, Roy scored her first goal, a 17-yarder off a feed from Rosie Jaffurs, for a 2-1 lead. It was the first of five unanswered goals by Kahuku.
Ahue found Minnie Whitford open near the left post for a tip-in goal and a 3-1 Lady Raiders lead with 4:38 left in the first half.
Less than a minute later, Roy scrambled after her own loose ball and scored from 5 yards out for a 4-1 Kahuku advantage. She added another score, despite a double team, with 1:05 to go in the half off a pass from Jaffurs.
Roy tallied her fourth goal shortly after halftime on a breakaway to give her team a 6-1 edge.
Roosevelt ended its scoring drought when Honda raced up the pool to score in transition. The Rough Riders were within 6-2 with 18 seconds left in the third, but got no closer.
Ahue scored twice in the final quarter, and Kelsea Krebs and Tahnei Roy added a goal apiece. Ruiz scored for Roosevelt on another one-on-one play in transition.
Roosevelt is one of six OIA teams that will play in the state championships this week. Nishioka has been pleasantly surprised by her team's progress.
"Our team did a really great job in the second half. A lot of times if it was close or tied, they gave up, but (today) they fought all the way through," she said, giving kudos to Nicole Mitsunaga. "Every game, someone new steps up. (Nicole) kept driving and drawing fouls."
Whitford encouraged her players to join the swim team during the winter. The turnout in years past was less than 50 percent. This time, about two-thirds of the team swam.
"We've been working really hard, putting a lot more effort," Ahue said, noting the speed of ILH powerhouses Punahou and Kamehameha.