HIGH SCHOOL SOCCER
Kamehameha outclasses Mililani for state soccer championship
PUKALANI, Maui » Bigger, stronger, faster and better. Much better, as reflected by Kamehameha's domination of Mililani in last night's championship game of the state high school girls' soccer tournament.
The Warriors lived up to their No. 1 seed by schooling second-seeded Mililani 3-1 before a near-capacity crowd at Kanaiaupuni Stadium on the Kamehameha-Maui campus.
Goal keeper: Amber Nakachi, Kaiser.
Defense: Nicole Lee Akiu, Kamehameha; Kylee Ann Ah Choy, Kamehameha; Jasmine Pratt, Mililani.
Midfield: Stephanie Yoro, Mililani; Natalie Wong, Mililani; Tricia Miura, Pearl City.
Forward: Caycie Gusman, Kamehameha; Skye Shimabukuro, Kauai; Maris Van Der Lee, Baldwin.
Any position: Markee Nobriga, Kamehameha.
Most outstanding player: Meleana Shim, Kamehameha.
"Absolutely phenomenal" was the way Kamehameha coach Michele Nagamine described her team's performance.
"If you told me we would be leading 3-0 at halftime, I would have told you to check your medication," Nagamine said after claiming her third state title -- but the first since capturing back-to-back crowns in 1995 and 1996. "We played them twice earlier in the season. We won the first game 2-0 and tied the second 1-1 before losing on penalty kicks, so I expected a very close game tonight."
Instead, Nagamine was treated to an evening of what she described as "textbook soccer" from a team that is as deep as it is talented. Leading the way was a precocious freshman midfielder, Meleana Shim, who was named the tournament's most valuable player.
"They were better tonight. Way better," acknowledged Mililani coach Ray Akiona. "They came out with such intensity and with such speed from the start. It gets uncomfortable when you're pinned down in the back for so long."
Shim demonstrated a craftiness throughout the tournament that belies her tender years. She was at it again last night, scoring the first goal with a spectacular free kick and setting up the second with a pinpoint corner kick.
The Warriors were awarded a free kick 30 yards from goal in the 12th minute. Shim lined up as if she were going to deliver a pass to the right side of the penalty area, where a bevy of teammates had lined up. But she then changed the orientation of her body and instead shot directly toward the goal, her kick sailing over the hands of Mililani goalkeeper Traci Kusaka.
Kamehameha increased its lead to 2-0 in the 19th minute. This time Shim delivered a kick from the right corner that intersected perfectly with the forehead of Kylee Ann Ah Choy.
The Warriors upped their lead to 3-0 in the 33rd minute. The Mililani goalkeeper and a defender along with a Kamehameha forward all tumbled to the ground as a result of a collision, and the ball spurted out to the front of an empty net. Jennifer Eugenio ran onto the loose ball and put it away for an unchallenged goal.
Mililani finally got on the board in the final minute, when Jasmine Pratt won a scramble for a loose ball following a corner kick and beat Kamehameha goalkeeper Deysha Victorine for the only time all night.
Pearl City 2, Baldwin 0
After struggling early against some of the better programs from around the state in nonconference and tournament games, the thought was that this would be a losing -- if not lost -- season for Pearl City.
"Even our own fans were counting us out," said coach Frank Baumholtz. "They figured we were too inexperienced and too tiny to be a factor."
But the Chargers rose to the challenge and capped their campaign with a victory over Baldwin in the third-place match of the state tournament.
Last night, it was sophomore forward Tricia Miura who accounted for both goals.
The first came in the 37th minute, courtesy of senior forward Meghan Fuller. Winning a scramble for a loose ball in the right side of the penalty area, Fuller delivered a perfect pass in front of the net to Miura, who coolly ripped a 10-yard shot into the left side of the net.
Miura struck again at 74:55, unleashing a hard shot from the left wing into the upper right corner to clinch the victory.
"Tricia is a very talented young player," Baumholtz said, noting that the team missed her when she was injured. "We finally got her on the field for the OIA playoffs and she rose to the occasion this week."
Baumholtz also credited senior central defender Valerie Ochoa for playing a pivotal role in Pearl City's turnaround from early-season pretender to postseason contender.
"She didn't come out last season, but her return solidified our defense," Baumholtz said.
Kaiser 2, Konawaena 0
After an eight-year drought, Kaiser was initially happy just to qualify for the state tournament. Once here, the Cougars found any number of reasons to leave in a joyful mood.
"Look at how happy those girls are," said Kaiser coach Adolph Samuels, following a victory over Konawaena in the fifth-place game. "We knocked off two league champions -- the third seed, King Kekaulike, and the fourth seed, Konawaena. For our program, winning three of four games and finishing as high as we did is a major accomplishment."
And the positive trend should continue for Kaiser, which loses only four senior starters and will return both of its goal scorers in the win over Konawaena.
Sophomore fullback Shannon Muramoto scored the first goal at 18:18 and sophomore striker Alyson Suehiro added the other at 37 minutes.
The second half belonged to senior goalkeeper Amber Nakachi, who made six of her seven saves after intermission to preserve the victory in a game in which Konawaena outshot the winning team 13-2.
"Amber's only played three years of soccer," Samuels said. "She didn't come out until her sophomore year. We needed a goalie and her friends brought her out. She has great natural athletic ability."
Kamehameha-Hawaii 1, Kalani 0
Only a strong performance by Kalani goalkeeper Yasmina Taketa kept the seventh- place game close. Taketa was credited with eight saves. But Kamehameha-Hawaii finally broke through less than 4 minutes after intermission when Tara Hottendorf finally put away a shot for what proved to be the only goal of the game.