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BIIF girls soccer: Hilo High sophomore turns passion into prolific goal scoring

May 18, 2017 - 12:05am

Soccer didn’t just make a young Miya Clarke’s knees wobble. It knocked her over at the age of 5 when her father, Michael, introduced her to the sport.

It wasn’t long before she felt a strong affinity for the beautiful game.

“I just fell in love,” Clarke said. “Always, when I score, it feels amazing.

“Just running up and down the field, it’s amazing.”

Soccer has become a year-round endeavor for the Hilo High sophomore. Clarke’s rarely knocked off her feet – she’s usually moving too fast to catch, let alone mark – and the feelings of amazement come often.

Such was the case Tuesday when, before a club soccer practice, she learned she was the BIIF Division I girls soccer Player of the Year, as selected by the Hawaii Tribune-Herald, West Hawaii Today and the league’s coaches.

“Oh my God,” she said. “It’s a great feeling and means so much.

“I put a lot of hard work and time in, but I’m honestly not the only one on the team who deserves this.”

An offensive weapon ever since she started working under club and Vikings coach Skee Saplan, Clarke led the Vikings with nine goals at striker and her seven assists tied for the team lead as Hilo won its second consecutive BIIF championship.

The Vikings had five players score at least five goals, but Clarke, more than any other player, was the one Hilo opponents had to account for as they prepared to try and keep her from zipping up and down the flanks.

“She’s a prolific goal-scorer,” Saplan said, “because of her athleticism, her speed, her passion. She works very hard and has a great attitude.

“When we needed a goal, she got one.”

The Vikings actually didn’t need many goals, not with a defense – led by sophomores and all-BIIF players Saydee Bacdad at goalkeeper and Kalamanamana Harman and Karla Ishii at fullbacks – that allowed only six goals in 12 BIIF games.

Waiakea’s Ki Serrao, the other first-team striker, was also in consideration for Player of the Year. Serrao, a junior, scored 14 goals for the BIIF runner-up Warriors.

In 2015 (Waiakea’s Sabrina Scott) and 2016 (Konawaena’s Taiana Tolleson and Waiakea’s Tori Teanio), the top honor went to players on teams that didn’t win the title, and Waiakea’s Teisha Nacis took the accolade in 2011, the year Hilo completed a threepeat.

Clarke is Hilo’s first POY since Brettni Kerr in 2010.

Saplan, the Coach of the Year, put limits on his starers’ playing time to keep games against undermanned opponents from getting out of hand too quickly. That’s one reason why Clarke never scored more than two goals in a game for a team that finished 10-1-1 in the BIIF and went on win a consolation game at the HHSAA tournament. Clarke scored twice in a 4-0 win against Aiea.

If not for the strategy, Saplan said Clarke could have scored 20 or 30 goals.

“When I step on the field, I want to play as hard as possible,” she said. “When I’m on the bench, I tried to support every one else as much as possible.”

That includes her six senior teammates in 2017. Hilo was a team dominated by underclassmen, but Clarke said she played for the seniors.

“All I wanted was to win another BIIF title, and I wanted to make it happen for them,” she said. “Just playing my heart out to make them proud.”

Youth wasn’t just served on the Vikings, but in all of Division I.

None of the players who made all-BIIF are seniors. Hilo sophomores Hollie Saplan and Haley Miyasato are joined in the midfield by Konawaena junior Nalani Wall and Waiakea junior Evyn Prine and the other fullbacks are Konawaena junior Kaiya Denis and Waiakea freshman Caneel Corpuz.

The only reason Konawaena freshman goalkeeper Kyanah Blas didn’t make the first team was because of the superlative play of Bacdad, who had a hand on eight shutouts.

“A good group of young and outstanding players,” Konawaena coach Guy Miranda said of the league. “The level of play should be high next year and give (the BIIF) a chance to play well at states.”

It’s a good bet Clarke will be leading the way, running up and down the field the only way she knows how: fast and with a purpose.

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