Honokaa High School’s Monica Carlos had a busy summer playing in four mainland soccer tournaments, and she hopes that experience will pay dividends in her senior year.
“I can’t wait to play high school this year,” she said. “I think I improved my skills a lot, and with our other returning players at Honokaa, we should have a really good season.”
Last year, the Dragons finished in a tie for third place with Makua Lani in the Big Island Interscholastic Federation and earned a berth in the state Division II girls soccer tournament on Oahu. This year, Carlos and her teammates hope to return to the state event and finish among the top teams — with the ultimate goal of winning a state title.
During the summer, Carlos, 16, played forward for the Honolulu Bulls Soccer Club for tournaments in Phoenix and Seattle. She was the only Big Island player on the Oahu team’s roster and picked up valuable experience playing against some outstanding competition.
“There were some really good teams in the Phoenix tournament, some of the better teams in the country,” Carlos said. “We only had a 1-2 record, but the competition was at a high level.”
In Seattle, the Bulls finished runner-up in the U.S. Club National Cup for the Northwest Region.
Carlos then joined up with the Lanakila Soccer Club of the Big Island, and that talented squad played in the Nike Crossfire Tournament, July 13-16, in Redmond, Wash., and then in the Adidas Beaverton Cup, July 20-22, in Beaverton, Ore.
The Lanakila squad was coached by Makua Lani coach John Edwards and his son, Trevor Edwards, a former Hawaii Prep soccer player.
Carlos said Lanakila included players from around the Big Island and one from Maui. The team didn’t make it to the quarterfinals in the Nike Crossfire Tournament, but it stepped up and captured the title in the 18-team Adidas Beaverton Cup.
“The team had played together before, but on this trip everybody came together as a team and played really well, especially in the Adidas Beaverton Cup,” she said. “The team was all staying together in a house, and everybody became like a family.”
Carlos said the final tournament provided extra excitement, not just in winning the title but in the support the team received.
“Being from Hawaii, we got a lot of support,” Carlos said. “It was really nice to have a lot of people cheering for us as we moved along in the tournament.”