Youth roundup: Defense carries Chicas to soccer title


Going into the championship game of the Adidas Premier Cup, coach Skee Saplan told Chicas players they couldn’t be beaten if they simply played their game.

To put it another way: You can’t lose if you never give up a goal.

The East Hawaii soccer club reeled off its fourth consecutive shutout Sunday, beating Eugene Timbers Cypress Black 2-0 for the 14-and-under tournament title in Eugene, Oregon.

“Our defense is very strong, and I have a lot of faith in them,” Saplan said. “I knew it would take something special to get a goal off us. I didn’t think we’d shut them all out.”

With fullbacks Kierstyn Yamamoto, Karla Ishi, Kalamanamana Harman and Caneel Corpuz running interference, Saplan estimated goalkeeper Saydee Bacdad only faced one strong scoring chance the entire tournament.

“The girls have been together for quite a while,” Saplan said. “They’ve grown up together.”

In beating Cypress Black for the second time, Saplan said Chicas possessed the ball in its opponent’s end for much of the match, and the score could have been much more lopsided than 2-0.

As it was, Chicas took advantage of a couple of stellar individual plays.

In the first half, Ayleemomi Amaral dribbled down the left side and beat a couple of defenders before depositing a shot into the back of the net with her left foot.

Asked if the goal was his team’s finest individual play of the tournament, Saplan said: “No. That would be our next goal.”

In the second half, Kiana Corpuz netted her third goal of the tournament in fine fashion.

“She beat three defenders on a solo run and also beat their keeper, scoring into an empty net,” Saplan said.

Earlier Sunday in the semifinals, Chicas beat Eugene Timbers Futbol Club Sol White 3-0.

Haley Miyasato opened the scoring, one-touching a cross from Jordyn Pacheco, and Chicas increased its lead when Kalena Kekaulua headed in Hollie Saplan’s corner kick.

During a second-half scramble in the penalty box, Amaral converted.

Miyasato and Amaral each had two goals in the tournament for Chicas, which was the only team in its bracket not to have a 14-year-old player.

After the matches Sunday, Saplan said the Eugene clubs acted as if they weren’t used to losing much.

“I was kind of surprised,” he said. “A lot of coaches aren’t too friendly.

“We’re trying to spread aloha, but the feedback was so-so.”

Chicas continues its Oregon trip at the Beaverton Cup starting Friday.

“The girls are happy and not too serious,” Saplan said. “I try to instill in them that they can do anything they put their mind to.

“I’m sure there are better people out there. I can’t wait to meet them.”

Basketball

Keaukaha faced a tall task in its bid to reach the championship of the Midsummer Night Madness basketball tournament in Seattle on Sunday — figuratively and literally.

Facing a much taller North Idaho Elite team, the Hilo-based squad came up just short in a 55-49 loss.

“We started off fairly well,” Keaukaha coach Ben Pana said. “And then, it was like they put a lid on the rim for us. We struggled the second part of the half. At the half, we were down 22. We made a run, got it down to four, but we started to gas out at that point.”

Pana said that four of Idaho’s five starters are 6 feet or taller. Despite the height advantage, it was the Idaho squad’s success behind the arc — Pana said the team probably shot 58 percent on 3-pointers — that proved to be Keaukaha’s downfall. But he also expects it to help in the long run.

“I believe that this will help the kids a lot,” Pana said. “It’s really, the experience part, playing against teams that have similar speed to us, similar aggression so we learn to be patient, and defend against bigger girls. To play against 6-2, 6-3 girls up here, that gives them that experience.”

Alexis Pana led Keaukaha with 16 points and added nine rebounds while her Hilo High School teammate, Shalyn Guthier, had a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds.

Keaukaha went 5-1 in the All-Star Division of the tournament and reached the final four of the 68-team tournament.

“Our performance, I’m pleased,” coach Pana said. “When they came up here, a lot of coaches thought we weren’t going to do as well as we did.”

Keaukaha isn’t done just yet. The team will begin play in the AAU Jam on It West Coast National Championships in Las Vegas on Thursday.

West Hawaii Today Sports Reporter Eric Knopsnyder contributed the basketball capsule.