Pac-Five proves it belongs

For its first games of the Interscholastic League of Honolulu season, Pac-Five needed to face the league's top two teams from last year in Kamehameha and Iolani. So far, the Wolfpack are successful in their early-season test, defeating the Warriors 2-1 yesterday at Waipio Peninsula Soccer Park.

"In my eyes, we have to go into these games as if they're the last two games of the season," Pac-Five coach Nawapan Smith said.

Last season, the Warriors finished second to Iolani in the ILH, with the Wolfpack in third.

A header by Jeremy Wittig over Kamehameha goalie Ryan Pohl in the closing minutes of the second half was the game-winner for the Wolfpack. They were led by forwards Wittig and Reid Woodward.

"We have a lot of talent up front," Smith said. "I knew coming into this season that we would have a pretty solid offense because we didn't lose much from last year. It was the defense we had to work on."

Woodward, who collected an assist in the game, used his speed to blow by Warrior defenders on numerous occasions. But he was unable to put the ball away twice when taking on Pohl one-on-one. Near the end of the first half, Woodward broke away from his defender and streaked down the middle of the field. With just the goalie to beat, he sent a shot across the goal, missing it wide left.

"He just needs to work on being patient, settling down," Smith said. "I think he panics when he gets up front a little bit."

Last season, Woodward played goalie for Pac-Five because Smith felt sophomore Eben Hellekson wasn't ready. But after a year with the Wolfpack, Hellekson earned a starting job in the net.

"This year Eben stepped up and was ready," Smith said. "He's gained a lot of experience this offseason, and it's really improved his game. I'm looking for him to carry us far this year."

It seemed that the Warriors controlled the tempo of the game early on, though Kamehameha coach Andrew Ah New said his team didn't play its best in the first 15 minutes of the game.

"It looked like we controlled (the game) but we didn't as much as we would have liked," Ah New said.

The only goal for the Warriors came with less than 3 minutes left in the first half as Warrior Isaiah Guth fired a shot to the near post from midfield. The ball bounced off the post, off Hellekson and into the goal.

With both teams misfiring and having numerous one-on-one matchups with the goalie materialize into nothing, Ah New said that he doesn't believe it should be chalked up to first-game jitters.

"We try not to make them feel as if this is anything different from preseason," Ah New said. "But I think they did feel a little bit more pressure than they usually do."

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