KEALAKEKUA — Konawaena was down, but never out. And when the Wildcats weren’t down, they were not willing to settle for a tie.
Behind second half goals from Melina Ramirez and Nanea Wall, Konawaena (2-1-1) came back to stun Hawaii Preparatory Academy 2-1 on Saturday night at Julian Yates Field.
The howls of victory emanating from the Konawaena locker room and into the South Kona night could be heard well after the final whistle. It goes without saying — the win was a big one for the Wildcats.
“This win really meant a lot to us,” Konawaena head coach Kaua Wall said. “The girls kept their composure and worked hard until the end. It was a well-played, hard-fought game by both sides.”
Wall took over for long-time head coach Guy Miranda last season, but is well-versed on Wildcat soccer history as a graduate and former Konawaena standout herself. But even she couldn’t remember the last time Konawaena got the best of Hawaii Prep.
The team’s routinely played twice a year with the previous schedule. But with some chances coming to the schedule this season and being in different divisions — Konawaena in D-I and Hawaii Prep in D-II —the team’s will only meet up once this year.
That gives the Wildcats a little while to hang onto the bragging rights.
“It’s a big win,” Wall said. “Especially because we only play them once this year.”
Ramirez tied the game with her tally in the 58th minute, taking advantage of a fortunate bounce and putting away the opportunity. It looked like the game would end in a tie until Nanea Wall fired the game-winner with just over two minutes left.
“I was on the ground. I wanted to be in there with them,” Kaua Wall joked. “It was a roller coaster those last 25 minutes or so. A lot of our players stepped up, dug deep and hustled that ball into the net.”
Julian Yates Field hasn’t been the kindest venue to Hawaii Prep of late, with the team’s last two losses — not including the preseason — happening in Kealakekua. Last year, Kamehameha-Hawaii ended Ka Makani’s run of eight straight BIIF titles in a muddy, fog-filled D-II title game. Hawaii Prep rebounded went on to win the state title.
“Beautiful night, considering the conditions last time we were here,” Hawaii Prep head coach Stephen Perry said with a smile.
There wasn’t much nitpicking from the veteran Hawaii Prep (2-1-1) skipper. Despite the result, he felt his team played an improved brand of soccer, which is exactly what he’s looking for at this point in the season.
“We did a lot of good things,” Perry said. “We had some chances but just need to finish.”
Perry commended the efforts of Jenna Perry and Malia Brost in the midfield, as well as Alianna West and Jordan Perry on the back line. Kahele Walsh had the lone goal for Ka Makani.
“It’s a good game to build off of,” Perry said. “It’s unfortunate we only play them once this season.”
Hawaii Prep has a week to get ready for Division II foe Honokaa next Saturday. Konawaena has a rivalry matchup on tap Wednesday against Kealakehe.