Sunday | June 25, 2017
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BIIF water polo: Wildcats pull upset to clinch playoff berth

When Michael Godden helped resurrect Konawaena’s water polo program last season, the roster was young and inexperienced, but it carried one key trait in spades

“A lot of athleticism,” Godden said.

There were growing pains during a one-win campaign in 2013 and more this season, including two tough losses Saturday — but not before Wildcats enjoyed a pool party.

Konawaena surprised Hawaii Prep 8-7 at Kona Community Aquatic Center, quadrupling its win total from the previous year to claim the final spot in the Big Island Interscholastic Federation semifinals.

“For us, just to reach the postseason is a great accomplishment,” Godden said.

Mikala Fernandez, the Wildcats’ leading scorer, tallied four goals, and Chloe Delaney broke a 6-6 tie with her second goal midway through the fourth quarter.

Fernandez, Delaney, Kaulana Ruedy (two goals) and goalkeeper Taiana Tolleson all play soccer for the Wildcats, and Godden said others on the water polo team paddled during the winter.

“They all want to compete,” Godden said.

In addition to picking up more nuances of the game this season, Godden said Konawaena also added depth. Promising freshman Bailey Walters netted a hat trick in a 19-3 loss to Kamehameha.

In the final match of the day, Fernandez scored five times for Konawaena (4-6) in a 22-9 loss to Kealakehe.

But those last two defeats were just gravy, especially after the the Waveriders defeated Waiakea 10-1, securing fourth place for the Wildcats.

“We got the win we wanted against Hawaii Prep,” Godden said. “The girls did some celebrating.”