Wildcats, Waveriders advance to Division I final
For Guy Miranda, the final score at Konawaena’s Julian Yates Field on Wednesday didn’t by any means indicate domination on the part of his girls soccer team.
The Wildcats defeated Hilo 3-0 in the Big Island Interscholastic Federation Division I semifinals, but Miranda wants his team to possess the ball better on Saturday, when Konawaena (10-1-1) hosts defending champion Kealakehe (10-0-2) at 7 p.m. in a rematch of last year’s BIIF final.
The BIIF semifinal victory gave the Wildcats an automatic berth berth in the Hawaii High School Athletic Association Division I state tournament, which begins Jan. 30 and runs through Feb. 2 at Oahu’s Waipio Peninsula Soccer Complex.
The Vikings ended their season 7-3-2.
“It wasn’t as if we held possession,” Miranda said. “It was back and forth. Hilo played tough. They were going hard to every ball, and it was hard to get a goal in the run of play.”
Two of Konawaena’s goals came on set pieces.
Defender Rayne Izumi-Baltero put the Wildcats ahead to stay about 5 minutes into the match, when she headed in a corner kick from Chloe Delaney for her second goal of the year.
Midfielder Saxon Nagata capped the scoring in the second half when she experienced what Miranda called a “David Beckham moment.” On a free kick from the right side of the field, the senior hooked in a 30-yard boot just inside the near post for her seventh goal of the season.
“She bended it real nice,” Miranda said.
Konawaena displayed the kind of possession Miranda wants to see more of on its second goal, stringing together three passes before forward Kaulana Ruedy found herself with a golden scoring chance in the box. With Vikings goalkeeper Edwina DeGrood bearing down on her, the sophomore slid the ball to her right with her left foot before tapping the ball in for her 14th goal and a 2-0 Wildcats lead.
“I was kind of nervous up 2-0, but the defense did well,” Miranda said.
The Konawaena coach credited the back line of Izumi-Baltero, Jashea Leleiwi, Alissa Nahale-Bianco and Jetahn McRight for limiting the Vikings’ scoring chances.
Miranda said freshman goalkeeper Taiana Tolleson made two key saves on dangerous Hilo forward Rose Nakamura.
Tolleson and sophomore Kili Kunitomo normally split time in goal. However, a ball struck Kunitomo near her left eye during a shooting drill, causing a small laceration that kept her out of action.
Miranda didn’t rule Kunitomo out for the BIIF final.
“We played well enough to win,” Miranda said. “We’re going to have to step it up on Saturday and try to keep our passing a little better and keep possession better than we did.”
c Kealakehe 3, Waiakea 1: After Sabrina Scott gave the Warriors a 1-0 lead with her seventh goal of the season, the Waveriders responded with three unanswered goals to advance to Saturday’s BIIF Division I final.
Kea Mockchew turned Kealia Wolfe’s corner kick into the game-tying goal in the 28th minute, and Kailii Smith gave Kealakehe the lead for good in the 55th minute, hammering in a free kick from 25 yards out for her sixth goal of the season.
Wolfe also set up an insurance goal for the Waveriders, delivering another corner kick that Jade Richmond headed across the goal mouth to Mika Bettencourt, who made it 3-1 in the 66th minute.
The Warriors finished their season 5-7.
c Hawaii Prep 3, Parker 1: Senior Kepa Police tallied his league-high 25th goal of the season, and freshman Justin Perry scored his 13th in Waimea for Ka Makani, which celebrated its Senior Day by earning the No. 1 seed in the BIIF Division II playoffs and an automatic berth in the HHSAA state tournament.
Senior Ryan Vasquez also found the back of the net for HPA, which will host the winner of Tuesday’s quarterfinal between fourth-seeded Konawaena (8-3-1) and fifth-seeded Makua Lani (7-4-2) at 3 p.m. on Jan. 31 in the BIIF semifinals.
Senior Paul Gregg scored his 11th goal of the season for the Bulls (4-7-2), who currently hold the sixth and final spot in the BIIF Division II tournament. However, Kamehameha-Hawaii (3-6-3) can overtake Parker in the standings and claim the last BIIF Division II tournament spot if it beats the Hawaii Academy of Arts & Science (0-12) today in Keaau.