Tip of the Sword: Chaminade’s Naomi Takata Spearheads Women’s Soccer Surge 

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED JULY 21, 2023

HONOLULU — Naomi Takata is no stranger to bringing programs to high peaks.

Just ask anyone who watched the 2018 Pearl City Chargers girls’ varsity soccer team and their magical run to the HHSAA Division I state championship game and a runner-up finish that remains the school’s furthest run since their 2016 state title win.

During that stretch, the then-high school junior goalkeeper saw a pair of state tournament games on back-to-back days go into penalty kicks for Pearl City.

First, a stunning quarterfinal upset of Kamehameha-Kapālama, the ILH champions and top seed in the Division I tournament. Takata was flawless during regulation, keeping an impressive Warriors attack off the board while the Chargers tried to figure out their woes on offense. 

Two scoreless overtime periods later, penalty kicks would be needed to decide a winner. A save during a second round of PKs by Takata proved to be the cushion needed for the Chargers to advance to the semifinals the next night.

As if that weren’t enough, Takata put her superhero cape on once again against Kaiser in the semis to power Pearl City into the title game. After playing to a 1-1 stalemate in regulation, the two sides remained knotted up through a pair of overtime periods and forced a penalty shootout for a ticket to the state title game.

The Chargers won, 3-2, in penalties after Takata added two more saves to her tally. She set the tone by knocking away the first Cougars attempt before slamming the door shut with the final save of the night. 

While the goalkeeper and team would end up falling short (Pearl City lost to ‘Iolani, 1-0, in the HHSAA D1 title match), Takata was named the tournament’s most outstanding goalkeeper and had given the world a taste of what they could come to expect from her going forward.

Things weren’t all perfect at Pearl City. As with many OIA schools, resources can be limited in comparison to private schools. From rides to-and-from games or practices to uniforms and facilities, student-athletes often have to get creative.

“We had a locker room, but it wasn’t like we kept our stuff in there,” Takata recalled. “You either had to drag your bags around school or find a classroom to leave it in or leave it in your car, but not everyone has a car… You can kind of tell the difference. You can feel the difference between an OIA school and a private school.”

While resources could be scarce, students often could find the missing riches in the relationships with staff as teachers and coaches alike looked to push the kids to be their best. 

“Even at Pearl City, one specific teacher we called Kaji, she coached us as well… She’s a math teacher. She is so supportive of us and just wants what’s best for us, outside of the classroom and inside of the classroom as well,” Takata said when asked about the OIA educational experience.  

“I think having a teacher like that definitely prepared me [for college] because she wants me to be successful, so I’m going to keep working to make her proud as well,” she continued on the benefits of connections with staff. 

While she grew up around soccer, referencing family that participates in the sport too, a move from Moanalua to Pearl City in high school helped push her into another level. The momentous change? 

The love for the game she found with Pearl City was aided by suiting up with one of her cousins, a family affair becoming even more fun as the wins came along with the partnership. 

“My entire family actually plays soccer, so I’ve been at the Waipio soccer field since I was young,” Takata reflected. “I moved to Pearl City and I got to play with my cousin there, so that kind of just changed my entire perspective on it, like ‘this is so different, this is so fun’… it definitely changed my point of view on soccer.” 

Her success came as no surprise with the joy on another level. Using an elite high school career, Takata spring-boarded herself to the next level of athletics and a new challenge. 

Her next stop would be at Chaminade, suiting up for a Silverswords program without a winning season on the resumé.  

That would change quickly with the addition of the Chargers’ alum to the roster.

Since her arrival, the Swords have had three winning seasons (one that was shorted by the COVID-19 pandemic), the only three since the program’s inception in 2006.

Success for Takata has come in heaps since suiting up for Chaminade, owning the all-time program records for wins, clean sheets and ties for any Swords goalkeeper. The impact was immediate, being voted as the team’s most outstanding player during her freshman season. 

The coronavirus pandemic took over the world during her second season for Chaminade, playing a shortened four-game season in the spring of 2021 and once again giving a preview of things to come for fans of the program. 

The fall of 2021, Takata and the Swords set a program record with seven wins in 13 matches while allowing less than a goal per game. She matched her first year in the net with four clean sheets, tying her own program record.

This past fall was the best yet for Chaminade’s keeper and crew. 

Playing in 16 matches, Takata buoyed the Silverswords to their third straight winning season (second straight non-COVID-19 shortened winning season) with her best performance yet.

The junior broke her own shutout record with six clean sheets in 2022, including keeping No. 6 UH-Hilo scoreless during a near full month stretch for the Silverswords where opponents were kept off the board.

Takata has been an iron woman in her tenure in net, playing and starting in all 47 games of her career following her arrival on campus. 

Other topics touched on during Takata’s time talking with Hawaii Sports Radio Network included her journey into the net and what she likes about goalkeeping, the recruiting process from an OIA school to playing at Chaminade, her major and how she settled on studying it, along with much more. 

Every year, Naomi Takata has taken her game to new heights. 

What will the fifth-year senior do for her finale? Well, everyone just has to stay tuned.