HHSAA girls soccer: Whalen sparks Lions to D-II quarterfinals

Makua Lani’s Katrina Whalen was one half from enduring a lost senior season.

Then she won argument with her coach, giving her and the Lions at least two more halves to play with.

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Whalen, playing just her second match of the year because of a concussion, provided her team with a much-needed spark and the go-ahead goal Wednesday, lifting Makua Lani past Radford 2-1 at the HHSAA Division II girls soccer tournament at Oahu’s Waipio Peninsula Soccer Park.

“She’s such a difference-maker,” coach Riley Alcos said. “The whole team rallied around her, which was great to see.”

While BIIF champion Kamehameha received a bye and runner-up Hawaii Prep got a unexpected one as well after Nanakuli forfeited its first-round match, the third-place Lions (5-9-1) put in work, also getting a goal from Halle Nottage to advance to the state quarterfinals for the third consecutive season.

It’s not easy, Alcos said.

“It’s always hard getting up a 6 a.m., getting to the airport, landing at around 10 and getting lunch and getting to the field,” he said. “Today, we had chance after chance. Halle had three, Lizzie (Evans) had two, but it must have been tired legs, because the girls are so good at putting away balls.”

Locked in a 1-1 tie at halftime, Whalen went to Alcos and she said she was ready to see the pitch after not having played since Dec. 6 against Hilo.

“Her dad gave her the go-ahead to play, but I didn’t know,” Alcos said. “Then she said to me, ‘I can play, I feel all right. If we lose, this is it.’

“She’s a senior. That sold me.”

And that was that.

In the 74th minute, Whalen took the ball down the left side and sent a cross that didn’t connect with a teammate in the center, but Nottage sent it back from the other side, and the ball found the foot of Whalen for the game-winner.

After vanquishing the OIA Rams (4-8-1), Makua Lani faces its nemesis, Kapaa (10-1-1) at 3 p.m. Thursday. The Kauai champions have eliminated the Lions in the quarterfinal round the past two seasons, winning 2-0 and 2-1.

“The girls are hungry,” Alcos said. ‘They just want to beat them. They are our rival, and we really want to get them back.”

In another 3 p.m. quarterfinal, top-seeded Kamehameha (10-4) faces Leilehua, which beat Le Jardin 1-0 on Wednesday.

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Ka Makani, meanwhile got the bye it became accustomed to in ruling the BIIF from 2010-17 when Nanakuli pulled out of the tournament because of a lack of players. HPA (11-2), the four-time state champion, faces third-seeded Sacred Hearts, the ILH champion, in the quarters.

In Division I, BIIF champion Hilo (11-1-1), the third seed, looks to finally get over the hump in the quarterfinals, taking on Iolani at the main stadium.