OIA soccer: Falcons finish big
For the Kalani boys soccer team, success is a matter of one simple objective.
It took a goal by Moanalua's Justin Watanabe in the 53rd minute for the Falcons to do exactly that. Kalani responded with two unanswered scores and dominated the final 35 minutes in defeating the visiting Menehunes 2-1 yesterday in its OIA regular-season finale.
"That's been our MO all season," Falcons first-year coach Travis Watanabe said. "Even in our losses, it's not that we play bad. We just don't execute when we need to."
The teams combined for just four shots on goal in a relatively uneventful first half. Watanabe's score early in the second half came on a free kick on a ball that slipped underneath goalkeeper Sean Brittain.
It seemed to light a fire under the Falcons as they responded by blitzing Moanalua goalkeeper Aaron Hague with an array of shots from all over the field.
Kalani had just two shot attempts on goal to that point, but two minutes later evened the game at 1-1. Senior Joshua Nichols headed a ball off a throw-in that bounced into the net.
"I wasn't looking to score," Nichols said. "I thought the ball was for someone else, but it ended up going in."
The onslaught continued as the Falcons took the lead in the 60th minute. Junior Danny Higa and sophomore Mason Nakama used a beautiful two-man game to set up a shot from Higa that he blasted past Hague.
"We work on that play every day in practice," Higa said. "Today's the last home game for the seniors so we wanted to finish with a win."
It was the final goal scored, but the Falcons tripled their shots-on-goal total in the final 35 minutes as they showed the same form that earned them a trip to the state championship game last year.
"This is where the real season begins," Watanabe said. "We've had some kids that have taken care of business both on and off the field. Now it's just a matter of going out there, finishing plays, and putting the ball in the net."
The Falcons can finish anywhere from second to fourth in the OIA East depending upon how remaining make-up games for other teams pan out. Moanalua (4-5-2) is also assured of a berth in the OIA tournament which begins in two weeks.