KAHULUI - The Maui United Soccer Club girls under-14 team headed to Albuquerque, N.M., for the U.S. Youth Soccer Association Far West Regional could offer a glimpse of future Maui Interscholastic League All-Star teams.
"At least six different girls have NCAA Division I offers already," said Brent Nunes, coach of the '00 Red squad, which won a state title in April. "The sky is the limit with this team. They work so hard, it is six days a week for this team and it has been pretty intense for the last three months."
The Maui United '02 Red under-12 boys also won a state title to earn a regional berth.
Maui United ’00 Red teammates (from left) Leialoha Medeiros, Skylar Littlefield and Kamea Drayer-Hoopii will try to help the squad earn a berth in the U.S. Youth Soccer Association national tournament.
The Maui News / ROBERT COLLIAS photo
The girls team is in a pool with two California squads and one from Nevada.
"It helps a lot because we go up there and we play against some teams that are probably going to be a little better than us, so it's higher competition and that's really important for us who are freshmen and sophomores who will be playing against juniors and seniors," said Kamea Drayer-Hoopii, a rising sophomore at Kamehameha Schools Maui. "We all come from different schools, so playing for Maui United all helps us play as one team."
Drayer-Hoopii, Skylar Littlefield and Leialoha Medeiros have all garnered interest from numerous colleges already.
Littlefield is a sophomore-to-be at Baldwin, and Medeiros will be a Kamehameha Maui sophomore in the fall. The team also has Maui High and Lahainaluna players.
"We have a lot of fun, we are super close," Littlefield said. "We just work really, really well together, so when we are playing in high school it is fun, too, because of how close we are. We want to beat each other but we also have fun at the same time."
The regional champion will advance to the national tournament, scheduled for June 27-July 1 in Kingston, R.I.
"We have been training for this moment, to go to New Mexico, for a very long time now," Medeiros said. "It's not hard to believe. It's more, like, exciting. We're ready."
The Maui United boys squad was placed in a pool with a pair of teams from Arizona and one from Oregon.
"These boys? Very good," Nunes said. "For the last two years they have been finalists at the state level and it has been a maturation process with these boys and this has obviously been a great year for them. The experience they have gained the last three years as state finalists and Albion Showcase finalists (in San Diego) has really helped them."
Team member Gabe Andrion said: "It's very exciting getting to have the chance to go play against top-notch teams and also have the chance to win. We are very excited - coach Brent has been coaching us very hard right now."
Teammate Kobi Kuge said: "It is going to mean a lot to play all those good teams."
* Robert Collias is at firstname.lastname@example.org