WAIMEA — Kamehameha-Hawaii finally spotted its opening.
When Hawaii Preparatory Academy decided to move to Division I this season, the Warriors — who had lost to Ka Makani in the BIIF Division II championship match the past two years — knew it was now or never to claim their first league title since 2015 and second overall.
While both teams wanted the win, it was quickly apparent that Kamehameha was the much faster and more skilled team on the pitch. They pounced on the Dragons early, scoring three goals in the first half on the way to a 6-0 victory in Waimea on Saturday.
“The boys did a great job and they executed the plays the way they are supposed to be executed,” Kamehameha coach Kevin Waltjen said. “I was very proud of them.”
The Warriors entered Saturday’s D-II title tilt with a chip on their shoulder and something to prove. That produced a very physical game with Honokaa that was occasionally reduced to a shoving match early on.
“Being physical is not usually part of our game, but you can tell why games like this end up being that way,” Waltjen said. “Both teams want to win. In some cases, when it gets kind of physical, the refs will start making calls and that will calm things down and that is kind of what happened today. The refs did a good job.”
The Warriors (11-1-0) were led by Jonathan DeMotta’s hat trick. DeMotta found the back of the net off a heavy right-footer from the left corner of the 18 with 16:18 to play in the first half and added another goal two minutes later when he lined up dead center, just outside the box, and sent a bullet into the top of the net.
DeMotta added his third goal midway through the second half on a breakaway. Despite his individual success, the junior only wanted to talk about his team’s effort after the game.
“At the beginning of the game we had our breakdowns, but we fixed the problems by halftime,” DeMotta said. “We kept our composure and worked together until the end.”
Along with the three goals from DeMotta, Buddy Betts netted two for the Warriors and David Erskine added another.
The win was big for the six seniors on the team that were apart of the 2015 title run. One of those six was Tyler Waltjen, who said he has trouble putting into words what the latest title means to him.
“It feels great to win again and do our school proud,” Tyler Waltjen said. “I hope we can leave a legacy for those who are following us. We want this program to continue winning.”
Kamehameha now turns its focus to the HHSAA state tournament, which will take Feb. 15-17 at the Waipio Peninsula Soccer Complex on Oahu.
The BIIF has traditionally garnered a top seeding for the event, having built a reputation as a solid soccer league thanks to the success of teams like Hawaii Prep.
“No matter where we seed, we are still going to have to fight the tough teams that are in the tournament, like Pac-5. There are also some tough teams coming out of Kauai,” Waltjen said. “It will be interesting to see what happens and we look forward to it.”
As for Hawaii Prep, the only team that handed Kamehameha a loss this season, Waltjen’s boys would love to play them again, though being in separate divisions, their paths will not cross in the postseason.
“Like any competitive team, these boys wanted to play HPA,” Waltjen said. “On the bus ride out today, some were hoping they could at least scrimmage them. You never know what could happen.”
Despite the loss, Honokaa (7-5-0) will also head to the state tournament.