Hilo coach Don Memmer is the first to admit that his Vikings don't always win the style points.
By Jack Danilewicz
"There are teams out there that can play better and be fancier in possessing the ball, but if you're just playing a kind of smash-mouth soccer, you can get the job done," Memmer said. "Teams hate to lose to us, but it works."
Memmer hopes his team's customary grit will be on exhibit again tonight as Hilo meets Mililani in the title game of the AT&T Wireless Boys' State Soccer Championships at 7:30 at Aloha Stadium.
The Vikings advanced to the championship game with a 1-0 win over top-seeded Pearl City in last night's first semifinal game.
In the nightcap, Lance Watanabe scored off a deflected ball 2:38 into the first sudden-death overtime to lift Mililani over defending state champion Iolani, 1-0.
The winner will celebrate its first state championship. It's Hilo (14-2), however, that fashions itself as the tournament's Cinderella team.
"Now that we're in the big dance, we just hope it hasn't struck midnight yet," said Memmer.
No neighbor island team has ever won a boys' state soccer championship, and the Vikings are the first team from the Big Island ever to play in the title game.
"We know all about that, and it's time for it to change," said Timothy Meek, who scored Hilo's only goal last night. "This is our year."
Mililani (12-2-1) can make the same argument. Last night, the Trojans avenged their 2-1 loss to Iolani in last year's title game and look upon tonight's game as unfinished business.
Hilo hopes it can outlast the opposition as it did last night by playing solid defense and making a break for itself. Meek's goal came on a brilliant individual effort, as he just beat two defenders to the ball. When Iolani goalkeeper Brent Tatsuno came out to challenge the play, Meek lifted the ball over his head and into the net.
Hilo senior goalkeeper Eddie Ruhland was superb in net, coming up with six saves while facing 21 shots on goal.
"I think their goalkeeper is outstanding," Mililani coach Jeff Yamamoto said. "He's probably the best goalkeeper I've seen in the state this year."
While Memmer likes his team's chances, he knows all about Mililani's tradition.
"We thought they were awesome last year, and they still have (Jarrett) Razon in the middle, and he's fantastic," Memmer said. "We'll have to neutralize their offense. They've got a lot of team speed. They really hustle. But they are on their fourth game, so maybe that will be an advantage for us."
Mililani's game with Kealakehe (a 4-0 win) on Wednesday was suspended and finished Thursday morning, due to a series of power outages. The Trojans finished their game at 10:30 a.m. Thursday and then returned to defeat Baldwin, 2-1, that night.
"That was a nightmare for our team," said Yamamoto. "I'm really proud of my guys. They've played through a lot of adversity. Really, we're just happy to be here. We get a chance to redeem ourselves."
Mililani will go with Thomas Brown in goal. He faced only six shots on goal last night, thanks to solid defense by his teammates.
Offensively, the Trojans swarm to the ball. In addition to Razon and Watanabe, the Trojans also boast Blaine Murakami and a pair of talented defenders in Timmy Liu and Kahi Hernandez.
"We have a certain style of play -- high intensity -- and we want to try and maintain it if we can," Yamamoto said.
Hilo will counter with Willie Williams, Brian Shinjo, Kaine Charleston and Cody Ventura. A pair of transfers -- Jeremy Van Kralingen (Waikea) and Brendan Moore (St. Joseph's) -- have also aided Hilo's cause this season.
Memmer sees no changes in the Vikings' preparation.
"We're going to play the same way we always do," he said. "We just hope to play our best game in the finals because that's what it is going to take to win."
Consolation gamesAiea 3, Kalani 0: Jarvis Uehara tallied a first-half goal and Skip Saito and Benji Villaflor added two more in the second to lead Na Alii over their Oahu Interscholastic Association rivals and into the fifth-place game.
Baldwin 1, Campbell 0 (PK): The Bears outscored the Sabers, 5-3, in penalty kicks to advance to the fifth-place game. Artie Ferreira and Kawika Kahui scored the deciding penalty kicks for Baldwin.
Kealakehe 2, Hawaii Prep 0: Eric Franke notched a pair of goals to help the Waveriders reach the consolation championship against Kamehameha.
BasketballSt. Louis 55, Kamehameha 36: Justin Harris scored eight points, grabbed 16 rebounds and blocked four shots in leading the Crusaders over the Warriors in the Interscholastic League of Honolulu third-place tournament final at Iolani Gym.
The win clinched the ILH's third and final spot in the upcoming state tournament for the Crusaders.
Kamehameha 4 4 9 19 -- 36 St. Louis 13 17 15 20 -- 55
KAMEHAMEHA: Eric Shaver 3, Mana Easley 0, Kolo Kapanui 14, Nainoa Spencer 5, Sean Uyehara 2, Caleb Spencer 0, Ko Kealoha 0, Manu Aweau 2, Nalu Perkins 8, Ray Oka 0, Greenwell 2, Aaron Kahaloa 0, Melemai 0.
ST. LOUIS: Bobby Tappy 0, Brenden Clement 0, Jose Vidad 11, Justin Harris 8, Jonah Lakatani 0, T.J. Moe 2, JP Kanoa 10, Jason Rivers 13, Frank Rivers 9, Arist DeWolf 2.
3-point goals--Kamehameha 1 (Shaver), St. Louis 3 (J. Rivers 2, Vidad)