Wa­ialua Bull­dogs On A Roll, Face Kailua In Soc­cer Match To­day

MidWeek Islander (Central Oahu) - - Central Oahu Sports - By JACK DANILEWICZ

A de­fen­sive mind­set has al­ways set the tone for John Rosa’s boys soc­cer teams at Wa­ialua High. Car­ry­ing out a game plan al­ways is harder than pre­par­ing one, how­ever. But the Bull­dogs are def­i­nitely in line for a pass­ing grade from their coach five games into their OIA White Con­fer­ence sea­son.

“De­fense is my key,” said Rosa, whose team took a 40-1 record into the week. “ Then we can see what the other team has to of­fer, and we make our ad­just­ments from there. Our de­fense has re­ally ex­e­cuted so far.”

All told, the Bull­dogs gave up only two goals in their first five games, both com­ing in a 2-all tie with Waipahu Dec. 15 in a game Wa­ialua played without two of its key play­ers. Take the Waipahu game out of the mix, and the Bull­dogs have four shut-out vic­to­ries against McKin­ley (1-0), Wa­ianae (20), Kaimuki (5-0) and Farrington (20).

And while their suc­cess is hardly a sur­prise — Wa­ialua was the OIA DII cham­pion last Fe­bru­ary, af­ter all — their abil­ity to keep the score down cer­tainly bodes well for the post-sea­son, which be­gins later in the month.

In fact, much was ex­pected from Wa­ialua this sea­son and most es­pe­cially from their coach, a 30-year vet­eran in the com­mu­nity, given that the team has its share of up­per­class­men.

To date, ev­ery­thing’s on sched­ule.

“A lot of th­ese kids I’ve coached from way back when, and they’re still with me now,” he said. “ They know how each other plays, and they know you have to work hard to be a cham­pi­onship team. Con­di­tion­ing has been one of our keys. Hard work and ded­i­ca­tion — that’s my motto.”

Ex­pe­ri­ence also has played no small role in the team’s fast start in the OIA. Back from last year are co-White Play­ers of the Year, Bran­den Galapia and Ka­malei Rosa, in ad­di­tion to main­stays An­thony Saito, Galen Su­mida, Con­nor Prindle, Somkhit Lo­van and Christo­pher Nak­a­gawa.

Rel­a­tive new­comer to the start­ing lineup Noah Acosta, and true new­com­ers Christo­pher Aca­sia and Gra­ham Row­ley have also stepped up to so­lid­ify what was al­ready ar­guably the top lineup in the White.

Al­though last year’s lead­ing scorer Kainoa Rosa com­pleted his el­i­gi­bil­ity, his loss has been more than com­pen­sated for, ac­cord­ing to the coach.

“We lost a good player (Kainoa Rosa) there,” said Rosa, who led Wa­ialua to a 13-1-1 mark in 2008-09. “Ka­malei had to step into his brother’s shoes and be an en­forcer of­fen­sively and de­fen­sively, but he’s well­rounded and he works re­ally hard.”

Galapia got a late start on the soc­cer sea­son while pre­par­ing for a foot­ball All-Star game, but has quickly re­turned to form and made four ofWa­ialua’s five goals in its 5-0 rout of Kaimuki Dec. 8. He and Saito have proved a matchup night­mare for op­pos­ing teams.

“ They click to­gether — and they make the de­fense work,” Rosa said. “Bran­den is an ex­cel­lent player, a work­horse. He has good vi­sion, he’s a good passer and he can fin­ish.”

The de­fense has been fu­eled by the play of Su­mida and Nak­a­gawa, mid-field­ers Pringle and Lo­van, and stop­per Acosta, who is only a sopho­more and in his first sea­son as a reg­u­lar.

“Noah has re­ally opened our eyes this year. Chris is well-rounded. Somkhit is a good hustler — he’s taken over Kainoa’s po­si­tion (from last year). Galen is al­ways there at the right time and in the right po­si­tion. Con­nor plays on the same club as Ka­malei (Honolulu Bulls). You can al­ways count on him.”

Rosa also praised the play of Aca­sia, a first-year goal­keeper, who stretches to 6foot-3, and foot­ball stand­out Gra­ham Row­ley, who is in his first year with the soc­cer pro­gram.

“ Chris has ex­cel­lent hands, and he’s a good goal­keeper,” Rosa said. “We’ve been ask­ing Gra­ham to come out for four years. He can re­ally run for a big guy.”

Wa­ialua re­turns to action to­day ( Jan. 6) at home against East foe Kailua. It will be the first meet­ing be­tween the schools since the Bull­dogs de­feated Kailua 1-0 in the 2009 OIA DII ti­tle game.

Bran­den Galapia, Matt Abad, Sabino Tec­son and Wa­ialua team­mates prac­tice for an up­com­ing game. Photo by By­ron Lee, by­ron­lee@mid­week.com.

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