Star-Bulletin Sports

Wednesday, December 26, 2001


A difficult goal

The philosophy for Kaiser is simple
-- can't lose if they don't score

By Jason Kaneshiro

The Kaiser boys soccer team is leading the Oahu Interscholastic Association's East Division by adhering to the most basic philosophy in sports -- you can't lose if the other team doesn't score.

"If we don't get scored on all we do is tie," Kaiser goalkeeper Joshua Curtis said. "It's not just a goal for me it's a goal for the entire defense. That's what motivates our defense. I've never seen them so ready to play, all we think about is that zero. We want to keep that zero."

The Cougars have posted zeros in the two most important categories this season, losses and goals against. Kaiser is 5-0 halfway through its OIA East schedule has outscored its opponents 21-0.

The Cougars are one of just two teams in the OIA that have yet to give up a goal. Pearl City is 4-0 in the OIA West and has won its matches by a total score of 26-0.

Kaiser goalkeeper Joshua Curtis, who has not allowed a goal this season, credits his defense for the Cougars' 5-0 start in the OIA East.

Kaiser claimed sole possession of first place in the OIA East with a 2-0 win over East Oahu rival Kalani on Saturday. Castle is just behind at 4-0-1, while Kailua is 3-0-1.

"Coach always tells us to play it game by game, but this game was really prominent in our minds," Curtis said after the Cougars' latest shutout. "We know (the Falcons) are one of the best teams in the east, so we know if we can beat them we can beat pretty much anybody."

Kaiser hosts McKinley at 2 p.m. Saturday and has matches against Kaimuki, Kailua, Roosevelt and Castle left on the schedule.

As the Cougars' last line of defense, Curtis has played a key role in Kaiser's scoreless streak. The junior is in his second season as the Cougars' starting goalie and stepped up his play this year thanks to a trip to New Mexico last summer. He played with an Under-17 team in a regional tournament where he faced some of the best teams in the west.

"It opened his eyes and it made him a lot better, because he got to see good keepers and good teams," Kaiser coach Herb Schreiner said. "Ever since that trip he's come back and he's working a lot harder and he's more focused. He wants to go further with his game."

While Curtis gets credit for the shutouts, he is quick to credit Kaiser's senior defensive line of Lucas Hom, Michael German, Matthew Stucke and Jeremy Patton for making life easy for him.

"All the credit goes to my defense. I haven't had to do very much," Curtis said. "They play their hearts out and it's so nice to be able to sit back there. I could not ask for a better defense."

And when attackers have managed to penetrate the Kaiser defense, Curtis has been there to turn them away.

"He's come through when it was really big," Schreiner said. "He had some big saves in the Kahuku game and the Moanalua game."

Curtis has played goalkeeper since he started playing the sport four years ago. And he quickly learned that when his team is doing well, the position can be a lonely one.

"It's a dual-edged sword," he said. "On one hand, the best game you can think of is where you sit there and you don't have to do anything because your defense does everything and you get the shutout. But on the other hand you want to contribute, you want to make a big play and you want to help the team."

On the other end of the field, senior forward Landon Beers has helped the Cougars take advantage of the defense's stubbornness by leading the OIA in scoring with 10 goals. As a team, Kaiser is first in the division and third in the OIA in scoring.

"He's a fast little guy and he's come through," Schreiner said. "Offensively he's hard to stop, but it takes a team. The team is feeding him well, and he's doing well with what he receives."

And Beers knows if he can sneak one past the opposing defense, chances are his teammates will make it stand up.

"It's comforting," Beers said. "It gives me confidence we can take these games and I can trust them."

Despite their fast start, the Cougars are only halfway to their goal of winning the OIA East. Kaiser had a shot at the title last year, but a tie with Kalaheo to end the regular season dropped the Cougars all the way to fifth place. The team then made a quick exit from the OIA playoffs, losing to Campbell in the first round.

Those memories continue to fuel the Kaiser players, none of whom have experienced state tournament play.

"I think we can still get better," Beers said. "We have room for improvement, we just have to keep working hard.

"We didn't look too good in the preseason, but we're coming around right now and playing like a team. Everyone's contributing right now."

Notes: Pearl City is the only girls team in the OIA that has yet to give up a goal. The Chargers are 4-0 in the OIA West and have outscored their opponents 51-0. Kalaheo leads the OIA East girls standings at 4-0-1. ... Pearl City's Carmen Calpo is the leading scorer among OIA girls with 13 goals. Mililani's Mele French is second with 11. ... The Interscholastic League of Honolulu boys season opened last week. The girls season starts on Saturday.

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