KEAAU – When the official dropped the ball at the start of each quarter at the center near one side of Naeole Pool, Waiakea’s water polo team turned to its fastest swimmer to go get it from its end.
Once Korrie Tengan beat an opposing player to win possession, she passed to Ashley Rynkewicz by her side and went to work.
More often than not Saturday against Hilo, the ball ended up in Tengan’s hands again so she could put it away. The sophomore also happens to be the Warriors’ most powerful player.
A unique blend of speed and strength in the water, Tengan took over with eight goals in a 13-4 victory, ensuring that her five senior teammates advanced to the BIIF playoffs.
“I definitely wanted to have a good match with my senior friends,” Tengan said. “It meant a lot. I’ve only been here two years, and having them by my side was great.”
The seniors had their say as well. Amber Eakins and Mackenzie Carvalho each scored twice, and Rynkewicz helped set up Natalie Mendoza for a fourth-quarter score. The other 12th-grader is Sydney Hashiro, who scored twice earlier in the day in a loss against Hawaii Prep.
Just five years ago, first-year coach Coco Flores-Oishi, a 2014 Waiakea grad, was in their position.
“It comes with a lot of stress,” she said of coaching, “but I love it.
“They played as a team, they always play as a team. They just did everything I taught them.”
The improved Vikings (4-8) needed a win to force a play-in game with their rival for the final spot the semifinals, but Tengan was too much to handle, lifting Waiakea (6-6) into matchup against unbeaten Kamehameha (12-0) at 3 p.m. Thursday at Naeole Pool. The other semifinal pits Hawaii Prep (10-2) and Kealakehe (8-4) at 4:30 p.m.
“Very aggressive,” Flores-Oishi said of Tengan, “very good at communicating and bringing the team together.”
Seniors Keli Hanley, Shayla Pascual, Laurie McGrath, and freshman Maya Oishi scored for Hilo.
McGrath’s goal late in the third period made it 8-3, but Tengan quickly answered with a turnaround shot from the 2-meter position.
Tengan’s hard to guard from the set position, but she’s also one of the fastest swimmers on the island, winning BIIF gold in the individual medley and backstroke in January before claiming IM silver at the state championships.
Her most picturesque goal Saturday came on a backhander as she was moving left to right in front of the goal.
“That was a surprise to me,” she said, “but you have to take risks in this game.”
Playing defending BIIF champion Kamehameha is always a risk.
Acknowledging that could be Waiakea’s last game, Tengan said her goal was to “make sure we come out smiling and have fun.”
Hawaii Prep 7, Waiakea 3: Chloe Hughes scored a hat trick as Ka Makani tallied the last five goals of the match.
Hashiro scored twice for Waiakea, but HPA held Tengan to one and kept the Warriors scoreless in the second half.
Hawaii Prep 19, Keaau 1: Parker Rabinowitz and Jackie Payne tallied four goals apiece, Ryanne Doherty recorded a hat trick and Claire Hughes scored twice.