Kealakehe managed to snap its three-game losing streak and get back to winning at home with a dominating 5-0 victory over Makua Lani at Waverider Stadium on Friday.
After controlling the BIIF scene for years, Kealakehe is struggling this season after losing several starting seniors to graduation, including three-time BIIF Player of the Year Laukoa Santos, who was on hand to watch the Waveriders pick up the victory, while enjoying his winter break time off from playing NCAAA Division I PAC-12 soccer at San Diego State.
The loss of Santos and other members of last year’s BIIF championship squad quickly took its toll this year as Waiakea defeated Kealakehe to open the BIIF season, snapping a four-year league winning streak.
The Waveriders rebounded with a win over Honokaa, but then lost three straight games to some of the toughest BIIF teams this year in Hilo, Kamehameha-Hawaii and Hawaii Preparatory Academy. HPA dealt Kealakehe their first home loss in more than six years.
On Friday, Kealakehe (2-4) jumped out on the Lions early, taking a 3-0 halftime lead. Out on the front line, Brayan Munoz continued to feed the center-forwards from the left flank, standing out by using his speed to outrun his defenders on multiple plays.
“The coach told me to go to the sides and cross so we can have opportunities to score and I felt like I played well today,” Munoz said. “I feel like I could have scored a goal for my team, but I am happy the rest of the team scored.”
The Waveriders found the back of the net eight minutes into the game when Nathan Weir ricocheted a header off the cross bar and into the goal after a scramble in the box produced multiple opportunities.
It would be nearly 20 more minutes before Kealakehe scored again. With a little less than 12 minutes to play int he opening half, Kainoa Raymond sprinted down the left side of the pitch and released a low kick inside the 18 to give his team a 2-0 advantage.
The third goal came six minutes later when, on a similar play, Xander Loyola came down from the right side and put the ball on a line, in the upper portion of the net.
Makua Lani (2-2) had several opportunities to score in the second half but could not convert any of them thanks to the play of the Waverider keeper and defense.
“We have seen a few of Kealakehe’s scores and we were hoping we could put a few in, but they played well,” said Makua Lani head coach Alex Dong. “They look strong and athletic.”
The Lions are in the process of rebuilding after losing 15 seniors last season, but it is not a term Dong likes to throw around.
“We are growing, we are just young,” Dong said. “We are looking to adjust and mix up some formations. We also have Emmett (Alcos), who can help lead this team and is really strong.”
With 20 minutes to play in Friday’s BIIF game, Teddy Rubenstein scored off a cross from Munoz just outside the six to give Kealakehe at 4-0 lead. With five minutes to play, Rubenstein scored again, this time off a free kick from about 30 yards out that curved into the bottom left corner, just out of the reach of the Makua Lani keeper.
“Teddy is really good and I thought he dictated the ball well, Dong said. “He is stepping in for Laukoa and he looks like he is providing a lot of leadership.”
The five goals scored against the Lions were two more than the Waveriders had produced in their previous four games.
“This is a new team, new players and new feel and I think we are starting to get it,” Munoz said. “We have a chance this year.”
BIIF girls soccer
Kealakehe 1, Makua Lani 0
Kealakehe needed a win on Friday night if they wanted a chance at a winning season. While not mathematically precise, it is what coach Kim Evans believed, and what she had been telling her girls up to game time.
“This was an important game for us,” Evans said. “We really want to end this season with a winning record and you can’t have a winning record without any wins.”
The game was so important to the Waveriders that Evans didn’t even notice her daughter go down with an injury in the second half. Her daughter, by the way, was Elizabeth Evans, and she was playing for Makua Lani.
“I don’t know if that makes me a bad mother or a good coach,” Evans joked. “I didn’t see her go out, I just noticed she was not there because we had to mark her.”
It’s always interesting when family members face each other. Household bragging rights are always on the line.
However, for the Kealakehe coach, she would have preferred to win with her daughter also having a good game.
A good game from one or two Makua Lani players, though, may have been bad for the Waveriders, who managed to give their coach the victory with a 1-0 performance.
For most of the match, it looked like the game was destined for a scoreless tie. Makua Lani had a couple of solid chances find the goal in the second half.
The best shot for the Lions came with 25 minutes left to play. Jewel Stroud managed to get into a 1-on-1 situation with Kealakehe keeper Malia Moore and sent a good shot in, but Moore managed to make a diving save, knocking the ball out of bounds.
Makua Lani had a second chance on the ensuing corner kick, but Colby Hardie’s shot just missed right of the net.
The only goal of the game finally game with about 15 minutes to go.
Kealakehe’s Audrey Weir darted inside the 18 and put a good foot on the ball, blasting a shot past a diving Lions keeper for a 1-0 lead.
Makua Lani had a great chance to tie the game with three minutes to play when a penalty set up a free kick opportunity in the center of the pitch, from about 25 yards out. However, Maddie Schuster’s kick was knocked over the cross bar by Moore.
The Lions were not able to convert on one final corner kick right before time expired and the win went to the Waveriders, who are back at .500 for the season with a 2-2 record.