Aiea’s Kanehira scores
another winner

For the second time during the playoffs, Tobi Kanehira came up big in the clutch moment.

Kanehira drilled a 25-yarder on a breakaway to lift Aiea over Pearl City 2-1 in sudden-death overtime last night at Kaiser Stadium.

The victory propelled Aiea, the No. 3 seed in the Oahu Interscholastic West, into the league championship game. Aiea (11-1-1) will meet Mililani on Saturday at Aiea Stadium. It was the second game-winning goal in two weeks for Kanehira, who made a big kick in a 1-0 win over Kapolei in the opening round.

Kanehira scored both of her team's goals in the comeback. Aiea fell to Pearl City 3-0 during the regular season on January 4.

"The first time, we came out really flat," Aiea coach Michael Tokioka recalled. "We tried to emphasize that we needed to be ready from the beginning."

Aiea looked like a team of destiny, playing without fear despite their relatively small stature physically. "We stepped it up. We played really solid in the center," Tokioka said. "I knew we had a chance if we played our top game."

Aiea kept Pearl City's Chelsea Arakawa, the OIA West's co-leader in scoring, from getting into any flow.

Pearl City (10-1-1), the No. 1 seed in the OIA West, will play for third place Friday against Moanalua. Both teams have already secured berths in the state tournament.

"Their kids wanted it more than ours did. They played boom ball, and they beat us to the ball. We let 'em do that," Pearl City co-coach Frank Baumholtz III said. He was far from pleased with officiating, keeping his feedback brief.

"I can't comment on the other thing that controlled the game," he said. During the game, three Pearl City defenders left due to injury.

The Chargers drew first blood when Lauren Maeshiro scored from 10 yards out. Pearl City led 1-0 at the 18-minute mark.

Aiea managed eight shots on goal, but never seriously threatened in the first half. Pearl City had five shots on goal before the break.

Na Alii were persistent as always. Ambree Ako fed a cross to Kanehira, who drilled a 10-yard shot from straight on into the goal to tie the game at 1 at the 50-minute mark.

The winning goal, which came 6 minutes into the extra period, didn't require as much teamwork, but was breathtaking nonetheless. Kanehira beat two defenders at midfield, raced up the left sideline and unleashed a long strike with her left foot. The ball sailed across the goalkeeper and landed safely in the net on the right side for the win.

"They were trying to double me up, but I think they miscommunicated," said Kanehira, a senior.

The natural rivalry between the two neighboring schools extends to philosophy.

"They play well together," Baumholtz said of Aiea. "They just flush it out and run like hell. Doesn't take a lot of skill to do that."

Kanehira got the final say. "Pearl City said we play boom ball like Kapolei, but obviously, it works," she said. "They were paranoid toward the end. On the back, all they do is clear the ball."

Mililani 1, Moanalua 0: The Lady Trojans advanced to the OIA final with a hard-fought win over the Menehunes.

Mililani (10-0-2) is the three-time defending league champion. Last year marked the Lady Trojans' first title under new coach Ray Akiona.

Moanalua, the lone team from the East to reach the semifinal round, dropped to 7-1-4.

Mililani got on the board when Sarah Yoro scored from 10 yards out at the 18-minute mark. Yoro, a senior forward, is a co-leader in OIA West scoring, with 15 goals during the regular season.

The Menehunes battered away and came close to tying the game twice midway through the second half. On a penalty kick from 15 yards out, Moanalua had a golden opportunity, but Mililani keeper Ashley Nakamoto came up with a save.

Moments later, the Menehunes missed on a direct kick from about 25 yards out.

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