Waialua Bulldogs On A Roll, Face Kailua In Soccer Match Today
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, email@example.com.