HIGH SCHOOL SOCCER
CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARBULLETIN.COM
Kalani goalkeeper Ian Garrod grabbed the ball in front of Beau Dixon of Leilehua during last night's state semifinals.
Kalani moves on to meet Punahou
The gritty Falcons earn a spot in the title game in their first state tournament
This year's boys soccer state championship is becoming a tournament of firsts for the Kalani Falcons.
Meadow Gold Dairies/HHSAA Boys State Soccer Championship
All games at Waipio Peninsula Soccer Complex
» Leilehua 2, Kapaa 0
» Kalani 3, Kalaheo 1
» Roosevelt 1, Kamehameha-Hawaii 0
» Punahou 1, Kealakehe 0
» Kalani 1, Makua Lani 0
» Roosevelt 4, Kapolei 1
» Punahou 2, Kamehameha-Maui 1, OT
» Leilehua 1, Kamehameha 0, PK
» Kalani 2, Leilehua 0
» Punahou 10, Roosevelt 1
» Kalani vs. Punahou, 8 p.m., Main Stadium
» Leilehua vs. Roosevelt, 6 p.m., Main Stadium
» Kamehameha vs. Kamehameha-Maui, 4 p.m., Field 8
» Kealakehe vs. Kapaa, 4 p.m., Field 7
Freshman Mason Nakama broke a scoreless tie with a goal in the final 2 minutes of the first half and Wataru Kumagai added an insurance goal in stoppage time of the second half as Kalani advanced to its first-ever state championship game with a 2-0 victory over Leilehua last night in the semifinals of the Meadow Gold Dairies/HHSAA Boys Soccer State Championships at Waipio Peninsula Soccer Complex.
The Falcons (12-4-1) will face Punahou (14-1-1) in tonight's final at 8, while the Mules (13-3) will take on Roosevelt (11-3-2) in the third-place game at 6 p.m. Not only will it be Kalani's first-ever appearance in the championship game, but it's the first time in coach Myles Arakawa's three years at the school that the team even reached the state tournament.
"When we first started this three years ago, we said it'd take a three- to four-year commitment to turn this around," Arakawa said. "Now I didn't know if we'd actually do this in year three, but it just shows how hard these kids have worked."
After a back-and-forth beginning that saw both teams come close to scoring, Nakama recorded the game's first goal in the 38th minute to give the Falcons the momentum heading into halftime. Off a quick counter-attack, Nakama took the ball down the right side, cut to his left, then switched back to his right foot and blasted it past Leilehua goalkeeper Nicholas Popa.
"I wasn't really thinking about anything, I just did what we practice," Nakama said. "It was really good for us because we played more relaxed once we got the lead and it helped us to just settle down."
The Mules were the aggressors early in the second half, putting four shots on goal in the first 8 minutes. Leilehua had two free kicks from just outside the penalty box as Falcons goalkeeper Ian Garrod twice held onto the ball outside of the box, but the Mules had one attempt blocked, and Garrod made a save off a header attempt on the other.
After the initial onslaught, the Falcons defense began to make its presence felt, and Garrod was only forced to make one tough save in the final 25 minutes as Leilehua struggled to find any openings at the goal.
"Sometimes the hardest part is to stay in the game mentally because the defense was playing so well and making my job easy," Garrod said. "I didn't really have to do much."
CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARBULLETIN.COM
Jared Sasaki and Kenn Kamoto of Kalani collided with Micah Uehara of Leilehua during the second half last night.
Garrod returned to the soccer team this year for his senior season after spending last year on the basketball team, an addition Arakawa was very excited about. The senior stopped all nine shots on goal and has been instrumental in leading the Falcons to the state final.
"He's our go-to guy now," Arakawa said. "He let up some goals early in the season that he shouldn't have, but that was mostly due to inexperience. He definitely helps us out."
While the Mules struggled to find any scoring chances late in the game, Kalani started to get some shots on goal in the final minutes off of counter-attacks. Kumagai finally made the Mules pay, blasting a shot from about 30 yards past Popa to ice the game.
It'll be a tough road to the title, as the Falcons will take on the defending champion Buffanblu, who have won 15 state titles in the last 31 years.
"It'll be tough, but we play when we're able to get out to an early lead, so hopefully we'll be able to get one early," Garrod said.
Arakawa will be looking for his third state championship as a coach. He won titles with Iolani in 1997 and 2000.
Punahou 10, Roosevelt 1
Bennett Pang scored four goals and Troy Yasuda added two as the Buffanblu rolled over the Rough Riders and into the championship game.
Punahou dominated from the outset, putting in four goals in the first half and taking 13 shots in the opening 40 minutes compared to just one for Roosevelt.
Chris Walker scored the game's first goal just 6 minutes into the contest. Micah Keaney added a goal 5 minutes later and Nick Love made it 3-0 with a score in the 21st minute. Pang capped the first-half scoring with a goal in the 35th minute and added his second goal 5 minutes into the second half off a crossing pass from Love that made it a five-goal lead.
Ryan Pena answered with the lone goal of the game for the Rough Riders in the 51st minute, but Punahou continued to pour it on. Pang's third goal came just 2 minutes later and then he combined with Yasuda to score two goals in under a minute to make the game 8-1.
Yasuda's second goal came in the 79th minute off a counter-attack, and Kevin Johns capped the game's scoring with a goal off of a header in the last 2 minutes.
The Buffanblu finished with 23 shots on goal, while Roosevelt managed just four.
Kamehameha 2, Makua Lani 0
The top-seeded Warriors bounced back from Thursday's stunning loss to Leilehua to shut out the Christian Lions (11-5).
Kekoa Osorio and Gareth Gomez each scored goals in the first half for Kamehameha (12-1-1).
It'll be a battle of Kamehamehas for fifth place as the Oahu Warriors will take on their counterparts from Maui at 4 p.m.
Kamehameha-Maui 2, Kapolei 1
Mitchell Navarro tied the game at 1 in the 62nd minute and the Warriors (16-1-2) won by outscoring the Hurricanes (12-3) 4-3 in penalty kicks as no overtime period was played.
Kapolei's Curtis Kiyabu scored in the 37th minute as the Hurricanes led 1-0 at halftime. Kiyabu, Mychal Malachi and Ignacio Martinez converted their penalty kicks in the shootout for the Hurricanes, while Kelii Dias, Kainalu Severson, Kody Ganiko and Cody Felipe scored for the Warriors.