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Sunday, February 1, 2004



[ HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETICS ]


Aiea earns state berth


Confidence, at least in athletics, is built through repetition.

It's no surprise, then, that through wind and rain, blue and gray skies, Na Alii of Aiea fear no foe. That includes Kalaheo.

The Aiea girls soccer team dominated the first half and went on to a 2-0 win last night in fickle weather at its home field. Unbeaten Aiea (11-0) advanced to the semifinals of the Oahu Interscholastic Association playoffs and, more importantly, sealed a state tournament berth.

Na Alii meet Kailua, a 1-0 double-overtime winner over Kapolei on Wednesday night.

Junior Tobi Kanehira led the way with two goals for Aiea. With just four seniors, Na Alii advanced with authority, and their head coach can only grin with a mix of surprise and relief.

"The girls are really confident," said Gordon Matsuoka, now in his 14th year at the helm. "More confident than me."

Kalaheo (7-4) dropped into the losers' bracket and must win two games to claim the league's fifth and final state tourney berth.

The visiting Mustangs played tough, but were simply outmatched by an Aiea team that withstood Kalaheo's physical play. Kalaheo was no match for Aiea's quickness. Thanks to their killer speed, Na Alii got into position for two free kicks in the first half, and both times Kanehira made the visitors pay.

Kanehira's free kick from the left side sailed high toward the right, curving back toward the crossbar. The ball ricocheted off the hands of Kalaheo's goalkeeper and into net for Aiea's goal at the 17-minute mark.

It was a welcome relief for Aiea's hardy fans, who saw Na Alii miss on try after try. Aiea had 15 shots on goal to Kalaheo's one in the opening half.

A heavy downpour drenched the field by the 20-minute mark, slowing the tempo for both teams. The action was neutral until the final moments of the half.

Another foul by Kalaheo gave Kanehira her second free-kick attempt at the 39-minute mark. This time, she drilled a line drive that bent toward the left upright and into net. Aiea led 2-0 at intermission.

Kalaheo came out with a little more offense as the second half began, but Aiea's defense proved too quick and resilient.

OIA playoffs
Varsity girls
Kailua 1, Kapolei 0, 2OT
Aiea 2, Kalaheo 0
Pearl City 4, Kahuku 0
Mililani 3, Castle 1
Goal scorers -- Kail: Hea Kane. Aiea: Tobi Kanehira 2. PC: Chelsea Arakawa, Lauren Maeshiro, Ashley Hashimoto, Chimene Sienkiewicz. Mil: Crystal Ah Sam, Nicole Harris, Raimee Ortega. Cas: Aimee Watanabe.

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