Na Alii advance with
shutout of Wildcats

Aiea netted two of its 16 shots in the first half to defeat the Wildcats of Konawaena 3-0 in the third quarterfinal game of the 2005 HHSAA/Meadow Gold Dairies Girls Soccer State Championship yesterday at Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium.

The OIA champions Na Alii (13-1-1) advanced to the semifinal today and will play unseeded Moanalua (9-2-4). Konawaena (12-6) moved into the consolation bracket and will take on third-seed Baldwin (9-2-0).

Though Aiea kept control of the ball for most of the game, Na Alii didn't score until the 28th minute, when senior Kelli-Ann Chang netted a low drive into the bottom right corner.

"I didn't even look up, I just kicked," Chang said. "I was excited I guess."

"I think we play really well as a team, that's why we had so much control," Chang said. "We're able to talk to each other, we're able to pass and know where each other is going to be. I think it just comes from team bonding."

The game was physical on both sides, with players repeatedly hitting the turf. The Wildcats and Na Alii were called for a combined 29 fouls.

"It was a normal game, it's just everyone coming hard to the ball," Konawaena coach Guy Miranda said.

"The physical players, you could tell they really wanted it," Chang said.

Just before the end of the half, the Wildcats were called for a trip in the box, giving a penalty kick opportunity to Na Alii. Senior fullback Tehane Higa went for a low kick to the left-center area of the net, getting it by Minor. The goal, scored in the 39th minute, made it 2-0 in favor of Aiea going into halftime

Aiea kept Wildcat goalie Marissa Minor busy in the first half, firing a flurry of shots in the period. Minor recorded seven saves in the half, eight in the game.

"She's a fantastic keeper," Miranda said. "When the goals got scored on her, she never weakened, she kept tough through the whole game until the final whistle.

"I'm just proud of her and the whole team for not quitting for 80 minutes."

Na Alii scored their last goal of the game just 4 minutes into the second half.

This time, it was off the foot of Aiea forward Ambree Ako. The 5-foot-4 junior raced past her defender and booted the ball from just outside the right corner of the 18-yard box, sneaking it just inside the right post. Ako said she faked out the goalie by moving to the left when she shot the ball to the right.

"That last goal that Ambree had was just a fantastic finish, it was an unbelievable goal," Miranda said. "Even being the opposing coach, you got to appreciate that shot... It was like a rocket coming in."

"We have two very fast forwards in Ambree and Tobi (Kanehira)," Aiea coach Gordon Matsuoka said. "They provide a very exciting game."

Although Na Alii handled the ball for most of the game, they were called for offsides nine times, five in the second half, which Matsuoka said was uncharacteristic of his team.

"I can't remember having offsides (before). I don't know why we're offsides so much," Matsuoka said.

Na Alii played their semifinal opponent Moanalua in the preseason, with the Menehunes winning 1-0.

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