Hawaii Prep and Waiakea hooked up for an intense high noon soccer match Saturday, complete with back-and-forth action, hard fouls and one blown fuse by an assistant on the sidelines.
After Ka Makani’s 6-3 victory at Ken Yamase Memorial Stadium, the coaches shared their admiration for each other and their teams.
HPA’s Rich Braithwaite appreciated the Waiakea’s effort so much he’s eagerly anticipating the teams’ rematch later this season in Waimea, while David Urakami can do Braithwaite one better in the compliment department: he wishes his young team could learn from Ka Makani and play them every match.
“A good wakeup call for us and a good experience,” Urakami said.
It’s rare when a match between Kealakehe and Hilo isn’t the biggest BIIF Division I soccer match of the day – or week or season – but HPA (3-0) proved itself to be the unquestioned front-runner and Waiakea (1-1) appears to be a worthy challenger after missing the past five HHSAA tournaments.
“I’ve been surprised,” Braithwaite said, “(Waiakea) is a really, really good team. I think they are tremendous.”
“We got two early goals but the first half was even,” he said. “We just buried our two, and they had their chances.”
“We scored six, but that was an even game. We have a lot of work ahead of us.”
So does the rest of Division I to catch up.
Jake Schneider and Bip Padraos each scored two goals and each narrowly missed a chance at a hat trick for Ka Makani, who appear from an outsider’s perspective to be rolling like a Big Red Machine. In its first season in D-I, HPA has handled Hilo, Kamehameha and Waiakea by a combined score of 17-6, all that coming after its victory at Ka Makani Classic.
As for an insider’s perspective?
“You obviously want to get the win, but we’re still trying to get organized in the back,” Braithwaite said. “We have to really work on finishing. We’ve had a lot of chances and we haven’t put as many away as we’d like.”
One of the issues for HPA on the backline is that junior Sihkea Kim, one of the BIIF’s best fullbacks, has missed three matches with a knee injury, though Brendan Moynahan has moved from the midfield and provided a stabilizing force.
“He’s been tremendous,” Braithwaite said.
Conor Hunt’s goal early in the second half was a back-breaker for the Warriors, putting them in a 3-0 hole.
HPA’s Jevon Flippin started the scoring in the first half, and freshman Riley Tamanaha, sophomore Kai Biegler and sophomore John Grover bagged goals for the Warriors, whose only previous game this season was a 5-0 victory against the suddenly vulnerable Waveriders.
“This was a lot faster game than the previous one,” Urakami said.
Waiakea probably could have played conservatively and tried for a lower-scoring game, but instead the Warriors went right at Ka Makani. Tamanaha and Grover each have three goals.
“I like that they were able to possess at moments,” Urakami said. “Yeah, they scored six goals, but it wasn’t a total slaughter. We had a lot of moments and we could have scored a lot more.”
Waiakea doesn’t get HPA again until Jan. 13, but it does welcome Hilo this Saturday.