KAILUA-KONA — In recent history, scoreboard operators at Waverider Stadium have had one of the tougher jobs in the BIIF, trying to keep up with the tsunami of tallies the Waveriders have had a penchant for putting up.
A fairly uneventful scoreless tie kept things simple for the workers in the booth for more than 70 minutes on Wednesday afternoon, but Kealakehe opened the offensive floodgates late to come away with a 2-0 victory over Honokaa (0-1).
Junior Kean Schutte netted the Waveriders (1-1) first goal of the season, and freshman Adam Foster recorded a late tally to put the exclamation mark on the win for Kealakehe, which rebounded from a rare 5-0 shutout loss to Waiakea in the team’s BIIF-opener over the weekend.
With the victory, Kealakehe avoided its first back-to-back league losses in nearly a decade and picked up an important two points.
“We just had to fight on and felt eventually we would get a goal,” Kealakehe head coach Alden Sawada said. “We needed a win or a tie. A loss in this game was unacceptable.”
While the majority of the game was played closer to the center circle than the penalty areas, Kealakehe controlled possesion, picking their spots to try and slip by the Dragons’ defense. Seeing the first one go in was a relief for the youthful squad, which features twice as many freshman (8) as seniors (4) on the game-day roster.
“We are really young, so we know we have a long way to go, but this was a good win,” Schutte said. “We picked up our energy and attitudes in practice since the last game. This game we knew we just need to get one to go, and eventually we got it.”
Honokaa beat Kealakehe 2-0 at the Ka Makani Classic in the preseason just a few weeks ago — a tourney where the Waveriders also lost key starter Eima Kozakai to a broken leg. But refreshed and a bit more refined, the ‘Riders reversed their fortune against the Dragons.
“That was preseason,” Sawada said of the difference between the two games. “This team is still a work in progress. We want to finish strong and there are still a lot of things we need to improve.”
The first half was uneventful, with the Waveriders managing the only two shots on goal of the half. Honokaa’s longest possessions came on throw-ins, with Kealakehe dominating the time with the ball.
Kealakehe drew a cheer from the crowd on a solid strike midway through the opening period that found the back of the net. However, the goal was negated by a whistle from the referee before the kick. The ‘Riders had another chance as the first 40 minutes ticked away when Teddy Rubenstein delivered a beautiful pass to Alex Bell, but the shot curved just outside of the left post.
The second half featured more of the same, with the Waveriders moving the ball around the pitch and dominating possession. When Honokaa did make a move toward the goal, Kelson Pedro was usually speeding down the sideline before being intercepted by a Kealakehe defender.
The Waveriders cranked up the intensity late with some fresh legs in the midfield, looking to break the scoreless tie. It did the job, forcing a corner which eventually resulted in Schutte’s goal.
“We had to put some fresh legs in,” Sawada said. “Some of our midfielders were getting tired. I put some speed on the top, which I’m not sure really helped, but we are trying different combinations to see what works.”
Rubenstein generated the chance that led to the Waveriders second tally, prying the ball away from the Honokaa keeper on a hustle play and finding Foster for the finish.
Kealakehe 2, Honokaa 0
Audrey Weir did not need a lot of time to make an impact for Kealakehe, scoring a pair of goals in the first half just five seconds apart to lead the Lady Waveriders to their first win of the season. Malia Moore and Anastasia Tuifua combined for the shutout in net for Kealakehe (1-2).
Honokaa fell to 0-2 this season.