The Maui News 2022 MIL Girls Soccer All-Stars | News, Sports, Jobs

King Kekaulike High School’s Kaehukai “U’i” Kaaihue follows through on a goal ahead of Baldwin’s Tamilyn Ebisu during an MIL game on Feb. 12. Kaaihue, who is headed to Seattle University in the fall, helped lead Na Alii to a fourth straight MIL championship and sixth-place finish at the state tournament. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photos

Kaehukai Kaaihue is known to all Maui Interscholastic League girls soccer fans simply as “U’i.”

The senior forward/midfielder left her mark on the King Kekaulike High School program, which has become the dominant force in the MIL.

She is headed to Seattle University to continue her career on a soccer scholarship and is the choice of the MIL’s coaches as The Maui News MIL Player of the Year.

“It’s definitely an honor, yeah, that’s awesome,” Kaaihue said when she learned of the award via phone. “I’m very thankful.”

Kaaihue edged teammate and fellow senior forward/midfielder Madelyn “Madee” Dougherty for the award. Dougherty is headed to Sacramento State was soccer scholarship.

U’i Kaaihue celebrates with King Kekaulike teammate Madee Dougherty after scoring a goal against Baldwin on Feb. 12.

King Kekaulike won his fourth straight MIL title and finished sixth at the Niu Health Urgent Care/HHSAA Division I state tournament, which followed up Na Alii’s 2020 run to the state final, where they lost a hard-fought 1-0 decision to Kamehameha Kapalama .

“It was definitely fun, but every year is fun because I just love playing,” Kaaihue said. “And I’m Surrounded by a bunch of girls that love to do la même thing, I want to say ‘thank you’ to all the coaches Voted That – I did not know about the gold HOWEVER bundle that works – but very thankful . I want to shout out my parent (Chazz Kaaihue and Jamie Santos arm) and I want to thank my (Maui Rush club) coach Carl Musto, he’s an absolute legend. He’s just crazy awesome.

“It was so fun, I love the girls. I also want to give a shout out to Madee, too, because she works hard and we definitely pushed each other a lot this season and that kind of helped us elevate the level of our team.”

Kaaihue and Dougherty (midfielder) are joined on the first team by Na Alii teammates Eliana Akinaka (defender) and Puameiti Farm (goalkeeper); Kamehameha Maui’s Madisun Gouyetes (forward), Isabella Ayau (midfielder), Jael Kapuaala (midfielder), Evalani Keawekane (defender), and Kaiya-Juliette Kapaku (defender); and Baldwin’s Chloe Toma (midfielder), Mia Rivera (defender) and Maria Kenagy (utility).

King Kekaulike head coach Gundi Dancil is the choice of his peers as The Maui News MIL Coach of the Year, but he was quick to credit Na Alii assistant coaches Ken Hayo, David Makua, Ronnie Kihara, Tiera Arakawa, Kelli Ganiko and Melanie Yepez Gomez .

Dancil split his POY choice between Kaaihue and Dougherty. Kaaihue scored 21 goals and had eight assists. Dougherty had 10 goals and 13 assists.

“For this season, what can I say? U’i lived up to the expectations that we had for her,” Dancil said. “Coming in as a freshman and finishing off as a senior, this is what we expected from her and during the season she showed us even more commitment as a player.

“She would have shown that commitment to us her junior year (that was wiped out by COVID-19), but we are going to leave that in the past and talk about what’s in store for her in the future. She did come in this year with the mentality that was expected for a leader in her position — coming to practice extra early, doing the skills that she needs and once in a while having partners with her.”

Dancil and staff figured out that putting Kaaihue at forward and Dougherty at center midfielder would force opposing defenses to choose who to cover. They switched positions, sometimes several times during matches, to cause more havoc for opponents.

“Her and Madee were the ones that were coming in early, later on it was more ladies that would come in earlier and also get into the skills that they were doing,” Dancil said. “Madee came in as a leader … Madee put in her work, too. It was something that, as I told you, my (POY) decision was I couldn’t make the decision.

“Those two, they can play the whole game and that was a big plus for us.”

Kaaihue has been playing soccer since she was “5 or 6” — she started with Maui Girls Soccer Club, then Maui Cobras Soccer Club and has been with Musto for the last four years. She often trains with the boys at the Maui Rush practices.

“I think I drastically improved just playing with the guys at coach Carl’s practices and being coached under him,” Kaaihue said. “I’ve been training with boys the past couple years. …Anybody that trains with coach Carl, they get crazy good.”

Said Kaaihue of the POY nod: “I think it was always a goal for me, but I never really said anything about it. So, I don’t know. I definitely feel like I did work hard, but just because you work hard it doesn’t mean you deserve something, so I guess I’m surprised in that way.”

She can’t wait to don a Seattle University jersey.

“I have-been so excited,” she said. “Even before I Decided to commit, every time I think about Seattle U, I just get so excited. I want to go up there and play already. I love the coaches, I love the girls, I loved the campus when i Went up there. I’m just so excited about the next chapter of my life. I’m ready.

“I know it’s going to be hard to leave, but I’m nothing but excited.”

* Robert Collias is at rcollias@mauinews.com.

second team

Kaelynn Andrade King Kekaulike. Sophomore Forward

Sienna Kamalani Kamehameha Maui Forward Junior

Kailea Tuitele Kamehameha Maui Midfielder Sophomore

Paige Sawicki-Farias King Kekaulike Senior Midfielder

Kealani Warner Kamehameha Maui Midfielder Junior

Lindsey Kong Maui High Midfielder Sophomore

Kaena Kehano Kamehameha Maui. Senior Defender

Kirra Spalding Kamehameha Maui Defender Junior

Jayla Barut Maui High Defender. Senior

Teyanna Johnson Maui High Defender Junior

Ella Powers Seabury Hall Senior Goalkeeper

Ruby Kessler Seabury Hall Utility Junior

Honorable Mention

Baldwin-Lahela Painter, Raquel Palmeira, Madeline Noland Kilikopela Kamakeeaina, Sammi Kinoshita Tamilyn Ebisu, Riza Santiago; Kamehameha Maui-Kamalei Kealoha, Kalia Lanoza Ava Davis; King Kekaulike-Soana Akinaka, Kawehi Akina, Tori Zackious Zoe Rehrer Bella Kuailani, Leialiimaikahikina Coyle; Lahainaluna-Haley Mahoe; Maui High Lily Ahrnsbark, Peyten Tokishi Amber Donnelly Tamryn Taoka, Joleen Alexander; Seabury Hall Jacqui-Schwartz, Victoria Osborn, Mia Rodarte.

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