Luna boys soccer team improving with every game
LAHAINA – The Lahainaluna High School football, girls basketball and wrestling programs have all experienced unparalleled success on Maui for over a decade now, and the veteran leaders of those programs all agree on one important aspect of their achievements: the youth organizations that the student athletes participate in before moving up to the high school level do a remarkable job in preparing them for the next level of competition.
Luna boys soccer head coach Sam Aki was thus very specific in saying, “Our team is much better this year due to the fact that they have been taught fundamentals in the AYSO and HYSA programs, and so we can spend more time on other aspects of the game when they come to Lahainaluna. We don’t have to teach the basics as much, and this is due to the terrific job that people like Sky Delaney do with the kids.
“This is a big factor… and we are truly grateful to all of the coaches down there that work with the kids. We’re head and shoulders above where we used to be as far as basic skills are concerned, and we’ve also started to work more in the weight room… the boys are really into it.”
Coach Sam, who will be assisted by Steve Pisacano, Robyn Rodriguez, Francisco Rodriguez and David Rodriguez this season, went on to say that the team now needs to, “Clean and polish our game and learn to finish scoring opportunities. We have a lot of speed on this team and the skills are improving, but we are very young with a roster loaded with sophomores and freshmen. We do have a solid core of experienced upperclassmen for leadership.”
That group includes senior captains Jacob Ramirez, Emerson Liburd, Yoxtan Zuleta and Amateo Flores, along with juniors Blaine Casil and Drew Austin. The remainder of the roster includes seniors Aaron Herrera Xavier and Austin Wagner, and juniors Anis Bel, Jakob Opunui, Kamal Craig Golaube, Marcos Lopez, Dean Omura and Sebastian Martinez.
That young group on the Luna team this year is made up of sophomores Roberto Cardenas Santiago, Carlos Dominguiz, Marcos Lopez, Erick Montiel, Radon Sinenci, Jose Negrete, Jose Garcia Beteran, Brandon Flores and Dakota Wenke Leverett; as well as freshmen Fernando Cedillo, Bryan Gilberto Murillo Solis and Jacob Gonzalez. The team manager is Amzi Tinajero.
“We have been improving with every game so far, and we have the big part of our schedule coming up. We finished in the middle of the pack last year, and we consider ourselves a dark horse for the title this season. We’ll try to use our speed to our advantage on the outside while using a 4-4-2 attack,” said Coach Sam from the state-of-the-art Sue Cooley athletic field last week.
The beautiful campus facility is structurally complete but needs to receive government approval before school events can be held there.
“This is a wonderful stadium and we wish we could have played some games here, but as it is, we’re scheduled to play our ‘home’ games at War Memorial Stadium (Wailuku). The MIL regular season games run through mid-February, with the state playoffs set to run on a regional format similar to the girls basketball setup last year. The playoff games for the MIL will be played up at Kamehameha Schools Maui, and the finals will take place on Oahu,” said Aki.
“We’re really happy with the way things are going this season. The team energy is way up, and academically, over half of the team is on the Honor Roll, and this is the first time this has happened. We’re really thankful for all the support the team is getting from the parents and also the trainers Jon (Conrad) and Helen (Hetzel),” he concluded.