LAHAINA - With an unmistakable Latin influence on the roster, Lahainaluna High School boys soccer continues on the rise.
After ringing up a 10-3-1 Maui Interscholastic League record, which earned the Lunas second place in the regular season standings, the 2012 team won a ticket to their first-ever trip to the state playoffs.
After a terrific start for the 2013 campaign, the Luna boys stumbled a bit in the middle of the season, but they are back on the winning track coming into the homestretch.
The Lunas would rise in the Maui Interscholastic League standings with wins over King Kekaulike, Baldwin and Kamehameha Schools Maui.
Led by veteran coach Sam Aki, Lahainaluna is currently in fourth place behind King Kekaulike, Baldwin and Kamehameha Schools Maui in the MIL standings, with big matches coming up against those three teams.
"It will really be a tight race to the end, and if we can finish our goal opportunities, we should be right up there with the league leaders and hopefully win a ticket to states. We finish earlier than the other top teams, so we have to win out and then wait to see what happens. We should be all right," said Coach Sam, who is assisted by Robyn and Francisco Rodriguez, Keola Maielua, Jeremy Delos Reyes, Elton Rivera, David Ramirez Gonzalez, Gabriel Serrano, Steve Pisacano and Mark Tillman.
"We have some excellent leadership with our four-year players and upperclassmen," added Aki. "Our passing game and team speed are our team strengths, so we have a little advantage when we play at home on synthetic turf as opposed to the grass fields for most of our games. We're one of the smaller teams in the MIL, so if we are playing on a fast surface, it is to our advantage. We'll see how things play out to the end of the regular season in early February, and then, hopefully, we go to states. With support we get from the community and from the school administration and faculty, we always have a good shot at a strong finish to the season."
The Luna boys are led by senior co-captains and four-year lettermen Julian Bel Robert and Rhys Lendio, four-year players Erich Skrotzki and Reece Sinenci, and seniors Noah Camara, Rodrigo Arroyo Haro, Semisi Filikitonga, Nestor Gomez Perez, Junior Gonzalez, Francisco Jimenez Salgado and Javier Ramirez.
The roster also includes juniors Sergio Gallardo Pedroza, Alexis Gomez, Keoni Miranda, Dylan Morales and Jonathan Moreida De La Paz; sophomores Katoni Filikitonga, Emerson Liburd, Pablo Perez Galindo, Austin Wagner and Yoxtan Zuleta; and freshmen newcomers Andrew Austin, Blaine Casil, Jepzan Montano, Jakob Opunui and Antonio Perez Galindo.
Team managers are Amzi Tinajero, Shawncey Arcangel and Dean Omura.