Many Hawaii Island soccer players have played with Kona Crush Soccer Academy through the years in order to step up their game and move on to the collegiate level.
Even in the midst of a pandemic, with their high school senior year upended and the summer Kona Crush season canceled, this year’s senior players have a bright future ahead of them.
Thirteen Kona Crush soccer players graduated this year and 11 of them plan to continue their soccer careers next year at schools across the country.
“It’s homegrown talent. It’s kids who have been in the club for a number of years, and are really a testament to the process that Kona Crush puts out there,” Kona Crush director of coaching Kelcey Chaidez said. “As they age, we start educating the kids on our style of play and elements of the college soccer game that we think, based on experience, will help them get to that level.”
The eleven graduated seniors who are on track to begin college in the fall are Konawaena’s Kyanah Blas (Hawaii-Manoa), Karenza Chavez (Peninsula College), Zane Garrigan (Southern Utah) and Jadyn Hanks (Idaho); Makua Lani’s Tia Lurbiecki (Pepperdine), Steven Perrino (Grand Canyon) and Kai Van Bergen (Grand Canyon); Hawaii Prep’s Angela Cipriano (Eastern Washington), Maia Mills (Chapman), and Zane Willman (Cal Poly San Luis Obispo); and Honokaa’s Koa Miche (Peninsula College).
Two Kona Crush players are headed to international destinations, with Makua Lani’s Tim Catanzaro planning to go on a mission trip to Mexico, despite scholarship offers, and Kohala’s Shiloh Perez planning on playing soccer abroad. Perez had graduated high school early and was playing in Latvia before the coronavirus pandemic forced Perez to return to Hawaii.
Chaidez knows each player will leave the island ready for the next stage in soccer and life.
Chaidez on Blas: “Kyanah is a top-class goalkeeper and will compete for time at UH Manoa. Her toughness and athleticism is a rare combo for a goalkeeper.”
On Chavez: “Karenza’s perseverance and feistiness will challenge all comers at Peninsula.”
On Garrigan: “Zane is one of the toughest, hardest working kids I have ever had the pleasure of working with. No matter what she does in life, she will be successful.”
On Hanks: “Jadyn’s a top-class athlete with a serious scorer’s touch. She will make an instant impact for Idaho, no doubt about it.”
On Catanzaro: “Timmy is a model KCSA player — tough, smart and an incredible human being. I am anxious to track Timmy’s progress on and off the field over the next few years.”
On Lurbiecki: “Tia is destined to be a leader in whatever field she chooses. The Pepperdine community scored a top-class athlete and person.”
On Perrino: “Steven excels on and off the soccer field and I have no doubt he will continue to do so at Grand Canyon.”
On Van Bergen: “The moment you see Kai step on the field you are drawn to his big personality and even bigger skill set. On and off the field Kai will find a way to lead the way.”
On Cipriano: “Angela plays with a chip on her shoulder and is always anxious to prove herself. I have no doubt that Angela will leave her mark on the EWU soccer program.”
On Mills: “Maia leads by example, her quiet and calm demeanor betrays her fierce competitiveness”
On Willman: “Zane’s potential as a D-I goalkeeper is scary. With the work rate and intelligence he has shown over the years, the sky’s the limit.”
On Miche: “Koa is tough as nails and an incredibly hard worker. It won’t take long for him to prove himself at Peninsula men’s soccer.”
On Perez: “Having already had the maturity to leave high school and play overseas, the ambition and drive that Shiloh shows in sport will translate to success in anything he puts his mind to.”