Boys soccer is one of the few team sports that Kamehameha has yet to master in the Big Island Interscholastic Federation. Mario Patrino has come close in the past, and he’s back for another try.
Patrino takes over the reins at the school for the first time since 2008. The Warriors lost in the finals that year as they bid for their first BIIF championship, and they haven’t been back since.
Because Kamehameha hasn’t reached the Hawaii High School Athletic Association tournament the past four seasons, Patrino said his first job is to field a squad that can compete in what likely shapes up as another rugged BIIF Division II race.
“There has been frustration in the (program) and I think when players are frustrated it tears into their success on the field,” said Patrino, a teacher at Kamehameha. ”Our strength is experience. That’s one, and work ethic is another. They have a mindset to want to learn and improve.”
He came away impressed with the Warriors’ defensive effort when they took on perennial contenders in the preseason, including a 0-0 draw in a scrimmage against Hilo and a pair of 2-0 decisions, a victory against Honokaa and a loss to Konawaena. Heading into their BIIF opener today at home against Ka‘u, Patrino thinks the Warriors can develop into a team that can hang its hat on defense to win low-scoring games.
“We’re not going to be a high-scoring team,” he said. “But once we get a goal we intend to protect our advantage.
“That’s what we’re known for in the past. Once we score, good luck.”
Patrino said that none of his players had stood out enough in the preseason to mention, adding that individual play that was tolerated during the past few years won’t be this season.
“No one has jumped up to the plate yet,” he said. “They’re close.”
No Warriors made first- or second-team all-BIIF last season as Kamehameha finished 4-7-3. Of the four players who made honorable mention, only Sean Miday returns.
While Kamehameha might not have a dominant player, Patrino likes his team’s depth and intends to use it to foster competition. The roster lists 20 players, but the coach intends to dress only 16 to 18 a game to keep practices crisp.
“It keeps players on their toes,” he said. “The good thing about these boys is that they’re receptive.”