MHS Boys Varsity Soccer Team Kicks Off Season with HPA Tournament


Photo Courtesy: Jacob Nakasone

Besides the tournament, the team was also able to enjoy other activities around the island. Some of these activities included the team visiting Mauna Kea and cooking dinner together.

Daisy Ann Hipolito, Features Editor

     From Nov. 29 to Dec. 1 the MHS boys varsity soccer team travelled to the Hawaiʻi Island to compete in Hawaiʻi Preparatory Academy’s (HPA) annual pre-season soccer tournament. The tournament consisted of three games, competing in brackets with teams from both divisions one and two. While the boys placed third place overall, they still gained lessons to prepare them for the upcoming regular season.

     “Overall I felt this trip was beneficial to the team even though we didn’t win the tournament. We bonded with each other and grew as a unit,” said goalkeeper Senior Nicholas Gaston.

     The tournament took place at the HPA campus. The boys played three games for the tournament and also had a scrimmage against Hilo High School. In the tournament, the team experienced a semi-final defeat to Kamehameha-Hawaiʻi. “When you play teams from other islands that you don’t normally play, it’s a different experience because of the way they’re coached and the way they’re taught to play soccer. It’s different,” said Gaston.

     For the boys, adjusting to their new challengers was not the only hurdle they faced. Factors such as weather and a new playing environment also affected the players during the tournament. “The weather conditions were pretty rough. It was windy and really rainy for (the) majority of our games, telling us 60 miles per hour winds westward,” said midfielder Senior Jvon Cunningham. Midfielder Senior Liam McGehee added, “They’re taught to play in different conditions. Like, say, some of the teams — or majority of the teams — you played, were acclimated to the wind and the rain. It’s been pretty humid and dry here. We sort of took longer to adjust.”

     Though they may have gotten third, the team does not plan on letting their place discourage them. Not only did the tournament allow them to practice their skills out on the field, but it also allowed them to practice their dynamic as a team. “We have sophomores, juniors, and seniors and they’re starting right off the bat. So we’re going to have a bit of chemistry issues, but this trip brought us together not only on (a) social (level), but emotional, mental (and) physical level,” said Gaston. 

     Cunningham, Gaston, and McGehee are all team captains for this upcoming 2019-20 soccer season. As captains, they take leadership on the field and help their teammates to grow and learn. All three of them plan to take a piece of this trip with them into the regular season. “So, what I was doing is making sure my defense is able to do their job to the best of its ability. Make sure the least amount of goals go in and make sure team morale is high. You know, we need to make sure that this team is happy,” said Gaston. Mcgehee added, “I’m looking forward to growing as a team over this season and mostly looking forward to pushing my teammates to become better soccer players and better people off the field.”

     Outside of playing soccer, the team was able to participate in other team bonding activities such as a scavenger hunt at Waikoloa Village and cooking yakiniku together. Yet, all captains agreed that the most memorable and powerful event that occurred on the trip was the visit to Mauna Kea. “We were welcomed in by the protesters. They’re able to give us the grace, we are able to introduce themselves. Give them our support. We were able to be embraced by the kupuna,” said Gaston. Cunningham added, “But as we got there and as we notice how cold and windy and how they’re up there for multiple days at a time, the dedication it took that we have noticed through that experience, they really made us respect what they’re fighting for if we do or do not support it.”

     The team’s next game is on Tuesday, Dec. 10 at Waialua High School.