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Kapaa finishes undefeated


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POSTED: Sunday, February 15, 2009

Chances are the Kapaa Warriors may never be this good again.

Just don't tell that to the senior corps—11 strong—that powered fourth-seeded Kapaa in a 3-1 victory over second-seeded Hawaii Prep last night for the JN Automotive Group/HHSAA Boys Soccer Division state championship.

Kapaa's state-title season ended with a 10-0-1 mark. HPA, the Big Island Interscholastic Federation champion, finished at 14-4.

One of the seniors, forward Ikaika Fuerte, scored two goals and delivered a perfect pass for a third to spark the Warriors to their first state crown. A jubilant, large following of Warrior fans made their way to chilly Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium, where a consistent wind blew 20 to 40 mph across the field.

Fuerte was one of the key players on last year's team, which finished second in the state tourney. Another key part was played by Caleb Sarsona, who scored the go-ahead goal last night.

“;We were a good team last year, solid, but but we couldn't pull it off,”; Sarsona said. The All-State member of last year's Kapaa squad, current HPU player Chance Bukoski, was there last night cheering on his former teammates.

“;It's been a dream of ours,”; Bukoski said. “;I'm still a Warrior at heart. I grew up with these kids. They're like my brothers, been playing with them since I was 6.”;

Fuerte disagreed slightly.

“;I think it was 5, actually. He's my best friend,”; Fuerte said.

The match had an odd start. Because of a communication mixup, HPA brought the wrong jerseys and socks, delaying the match for 35 minutes. Ka Makani played the first half in red practice jerseys with numbers written on the back via black Sharpie pens.

Korey Tsubota's blast from 20 yards out gave HPA a 1-0 lead at the 6-minute mark.

“;I got a pass off Randy, our left wing. I had some space and the goalie was off his line a little,”; Tsubota said. “;I chipped it a little bit to the left.”;

From that point, however, Kapaa controlled the tempo and hardly allowed a shot on goal.

“;This is a very good group,”; coach Kevin Cram said. “;They're very adaptable.”;

At the 13-minute mark, Fuerte lined up for a penalty kick and drilled a low blast to the right side of the net. Tyler Cram, a big midfielder, was a key space-eater in the line.

“;He caps the wall, shields, and makes his body skinny so the ball can get through,”; Fuerte said. “;We never used on Kauai. We just started working on it a couple of weeks ago. I think (HPA) thought the ball was going above the wall.”;

At the 27-minute mark, Fuerte's pass to Sarsona led to a clear shot and goal for a 2-1 lead.

“;Caleb's the fastest guy on our team,”; Fuerte said. “;I decided to let him run on to the ball.”;

Kapaa's lead seemed in danger, however, after Fuerte left with an injury. Sarsona and teammate Josh Gerhart drew yellow cards, to boot.

Kapaa's attackers kept HPA goalkeeper Bobby Stomski busy, but he couldn't stop a 20-yard rip by Fuertes from outside the box. That gave the Warriors a 3-1 lead.

Kapaa goalkeeper Christian Taniguchi was flawless for the final 74 minutes.

“;I had to step it up. To be honest, I was nervous,”; he said. “;We came here for a reason. We're destined. We

Tsubota, a senior, was just grateful that his team got to play in a title match despite the uniform snafu. HPA's game jerseys arrived shortly before halftime.

“;We were lucky. Our coaches handled it. We're very thankful the refs let us play,”; he said. “;It's just great excitement to be here. It's fun to see a Kauai team and a Big Island team get in.”;