When Michael Godden helped resurrect Konawaena’s water polo program last season, the roster was young and inexperienced, but it carried one key trait in spades.
“A lot of athleticism,” Godden said.
There were growing pains during a one-win campaign in 2013 and more this season, including two tough losses Saturday — but not before the Wildcats enjoyed a pool party.
Konawaena surprised Hawaii Preparatory Academy 8-7 at Kona Community Aquatic Center, quadrupling its win total from the previous year to claim the final spot in the Big Island Interscholastic Federation semifinals.
“For us, just to reach the postseason is a great accomplishment,” Godden said.
Mikala Fernandez, the Wildcats’ leading scorer, tallied four goals, and Chloe Delaney broke a 6-all tie with her second goal midway through the fourth quarter.
Fernandez, Delaney, Kaulana Ruedy (two goals) and goalkeeper Taiana Tolleson all play soccer for the Wildcats, and Godden said others on the water polo team paddled during the winter.
“They all want to compete,” Godden said.
In addition to picking up more nuances of the game this season, Godden said Konawaena added depth. Promising freshman Bailey Walters netted a hat trick in a 19-3 loss to Kamehameha.
In the final match of the day, Fernandez scored five times for Konawaena (4-6) in a 22-9 loss to Kealakehe.
But those last two defeats were just gravy, especially after the Waveriders defeated Waiakea 10-1, securing fourth place for the Wildcats.
“We got the win we wanted against Hawaii Prep,” Godden said. “The girls did some celebrating.”
Behind 16 goals from Mehana Pilago, the Waveriders (8-2) were busy earning three victories on the final day of the regular season, and they’ll face Ka Makani (5-5) in a 3 p.m. semifinal Friday at Kamehameha’s Naeole Pool. The match will determine the BIIF’s second participant at the Hawaii High School Athletic Association tournament — unless the Wildcats can pull off a huge upset against Kamehameha (10-0) in the 4:30 p.m. semifinal Friday.
Here are the rest of Saturday’s goal-scorers:
Kamehameha 19, Konawaena 3: Cassidy Fratinardo poured in six goals, Katelynn Kubo put in four and Halia Nahale-a posted a hat trick for the Warriors, who will try to complete their fifth straight undefeated BIIF season next weekend. Pua Wong added two goals, while Kaitlyn Silva, Aylyssa Pelanca, Tiana Klask and Hoea Makaike also scored.
Kealakehe 22, Konawaena 9: Pilago powered the Waveriders to their fifth straight victory by scoring seven times. Naomi Tomlinson tallied four goals, and Michaela Watson and Marissa Bryant-Manago recorded hat tricks. Molly-Ann Jacoby found the back of the net twice, while Aimee Caldwell, Sarah Johnson and Chenoa Jesser also scored.
In addition to Fernandez’s five goals, Ruedy, Walters and Kalino Rapoza scored for the Wildcats.
Kealakehe 16, Hilo 5: The Waveriders got six goals from Pilago, five from Tomlinson and one apiece by Sarah Somsanguansit, Izzy Biehl, Watson, Bryant-Manago and Jacoby.
Kaylyn Ells-Hookano scored twice for the Vikings (0-10), who also got goals from Angela Krahner, Alana Flaherty and Ashleigh Kahawaiola’a-Daffron.
Kealakehe 10, Waiakea 1: Bryant-Manago’s four goals led the way, and the Waveriders also got contributions from Pilago (three), Anna Thomas, Tomlinson and Somsanguansit.
Taislynn Ida scored for the Warriors (3-7).
Konawaena 8, HPA 7: Louisa Duggan, Sarah Im and Leilani Bostock tallied two goals each for HPA, and Seychelle Francis added a score.