By KEVIN JAKAHI
Tribune-Herald sports writer
Kealakehe senior McKenna Davidson scored buckets of goals and accounted for crucial assists in the Big Island Interscholastic Federation, dynamic production that pushed the Waveriders to their best ever season.
Davidson was the centerpiece as the ’Riders pocketed their first BIIF championship in the school’s 17-year history, and finished with a 14-0 record.
“Everything stood out about her,” Kealakehe coach Jim Smith said. “Her best trait is her tenacity. When something wasn’t going right, she could turn the tide and change the momentum.”
Davidson, who scored a league-high 21 goals, was named the BIIF Division I Player of the Year, a vote by the league’s coaches.
“It’s been one of my goals, a dream, and I’m just really happy I got it as a senior,” she said. “It’s something I strived for and trained really hard to have a good chance of getting.”
Her versatility showed with her All-BIIF first-team selections. As a sophomore, she landed on the first team at defender. Last year, she made it at midfielder.
And her skills — putting the ball in the back of the net and finding a way to assist others — were diverse as well, especially in big matches.
In the BIIF semifinals with a state berth on the line, Davidson scored and set up Rachael Bianchi’s game-winning header off a corner kick to help Kealakehe defeat Hilo 2-1 in double overtime.
The Waveriders edged crosstown rival Konawaena 1-0 in the BIIF championship on Bianchi’s penalty kick, getting over the hump after placing runner-up six previous seasons.
The undefeated roll hit a red light at the Hawaii High School Athletic Association state tournament. Kealakehe went 1-2, losing to Mililani 2-0, beating Kamehameha-Maui 5-2 and falling to Baldwin 5-3 in the fifth-place game.
The short-circuit ending didn’t stop the flood of All-BIIF honors for the Waveriders, who landed five others on the first team in junior forward Kari Van Mols, who was second in the league with 20 goals, senior midfielder Bianchi, senior defender Isla Kruger-Burgess, junior defender Caili Ebanix, and sophomore goalkeeper Sullivan Smith.
The only position missing from Davidson’s All-BIIF first team list is goalie, a position well covered by her sister Kayla. She’s a sophomore at Pacific University, a Division III school in Oregon, and was an All-BIIF first team goalie for three seasons.
She’s also an inspiration to her younger sister. Davidson, who holds a 3.56 grade-point average, is considering joining the Boxers to be sister teammates again.
“My sister is always giving me advice. She’s always been supportive, even when she’s in Oregon, texting me before games,” Davidson said. “She tells me to believe in myself and play for my teammates and not for myself because we’re a team, and to play with heart.
“When she came home during winter break, she came to every practice and game and gave a lot of motivational speeches. She’s inspiring to me. She’s always so positive and encouraging. She brings me back up.”
Davidson’s leadership skills and high-intensity work rate are skill sets Smith appreciated.
“She plays with a lot of heart and desire. She has a will to win,” he said. “When something bad happened, she would help pump up her teammates. This year she was a leader and she led by example. That was great to see. And her teammates fed off her.
“The BIIF championship was a goal for the seniors. It was a nice team accomplishment and that’s what they all strived for. It was nice to see them get what they really wanted.”
Davidson also competes in track and field for the Waveriders. She placed seventh in the long jump at the state championships last year. She said Pacific’s track coach will be scouting her and others at the state meet May 11-12 at Keaau High.
But it’s soccer that holds the 5-foot-5 forward’s heart. She started as a 4-year-old and has played with the Honolulu Bulls the last eight years.
Her greatest time was spent on Kealakehe’s first BIIF title team.
“This season was rewarding. It was an amazing accomplishment,” Davidson said. “The girls we had on the team were the best group of girls I’ve played with. We were always there for each other. We worked hard and played for each other.
“We became a family, a bunch of sisters. The coaches encouraged that and that helped us become the team we were. It was good to play with a group of girls who really wanted the same thing I did — a BIIF title.”
Player School Class Position
Jacy Pagala Keaau Sr. Forward
McKenna Davidson Kealakehe Sr. Forward
Kari Van Mols Kealakehe Jr. Forward
Rachael Bianchi Kealakehe Sr. Midfield
Ua Ruedy Kona Jr. Midfield
Saxon Nagata Kona Jr. Midfield
Karise Kuroda Waiakea Soph. Midfield
Tracee Fukunaga Hilo Sr. Defender
Isla Kruger-Burgess Kealakehe Sr. Defender
Caili Ebanix Kealakehe Jr. Defender
Kiara Torres-Ah Sing Waiakea Sr. Defender
Sullivan Smith Kealakehe Soph. Goalkeeper
Player of the Year: McKenna Davidson, Kealakehe
Coach of the Year: Jim Smith, Kealakehe
Forward: Rose Nakamura, Hilo, Jr.; Taylor Matas, Hilo, Soph.; Taylor Pacheco, Hilo, Jr.; Avery-Rose Jarvis, Keaau, Jr.; Ashley Teshima, Kona, Sr.; Jasmine Ward, Kona, Sr.; Kaulana Ruedy, Kona, Fr.; Sabrina Scott, Waiakea, Fr.; Cheylee Octavio, Waiakea, Soph.
Midfield: Nathalie Orevillo, Hilo, Sr.; Mehana Halpem, Hilo, Fr.; Delcee Ramos, Hilo, Soph.; Savannah Toussiant, Hilo, Fr.; Kyonna McDonald, Kealakehe, Sr.; Lexie Cuaresma, Kealakehe, Fr.; Roxanna Voldovinos, Kona, Sr.; Raine Kolman, Kona, Sr.
Defender: Lolly Higa, Hilo, Soph.; Shaylyn Arakaki, Hilo, Soph.; Lii Maertens, Hilo, Soph.; Rosilyn Handy, Keaau, Sr.; Shani Cosma, Keaau, Jr.; Randi Estrada, Keaau, Sr.; Kaili Smith, Kealakehe, Soph.; Hedwyne Santos, Kona, Sr.; Rayne Izumi-Baltero, Kona, Soph.; Jetahyn McRight, Kona, Soph.; Jashea Leleiwi, Kona, Fr.
Goalkeeper: Edwina DeGrood, Hilo, Jr.; Maria Cisneros, Kona, Sr.; Jordan Melchor, Waiakea, Fr.