Defense is golden as Mililani makes it 3 in a row

Teammates surrounded Mililani’s Amber Tadeo-Gilbert after she scored a goal in the second half of a 2-0 win over Kaiser to win the Trojans' third straight OIA title and seventh in the last 10 years on Saturday night. Photo by Cindy Ellen Russell/Star-Advertiser.

Seven Oahu Interscholastic Association Division I championships in 10 seasons.

That’s a dynasty for you, at least in the OIA. Mililani’s 2-0 win over a normally explosive Kaiser squad brought home another girls soccer title. That’s a three-peat for the Lady Trojans, who now have a first-round bye in the upcoming Queen’s Medical Center/HHSAA Girls Soccer State Championships.

Mililani (12-2) did it with two impressive goals from sophomore Amber Tadeo-Gilbert and excellent defensive chemistry. Tadeo-Gilbert’s first goal was almost impossible to draw up. She dribbled from right to left in the box, and then sent a left-footed blast inside the right post, absolutely confounding the Cougars defense and a great effort by their goalkeeper. That goal gave Mililani a 1-0 lead at the 10-minute mark.

In the second half, Karlin Wurlitzer sent a high free kick deep into the box, and Tadeo-Gilbert blazed past her defender and scored at near point-blank range to give Mililani a 2-0 lead at the 60-minute mark.

“It was a bending ball,” Wurlitzer said of the assist.

Tadeo-Gilbert confirmed that the goal wasn’t a header, and it wasn’t off her shoulder or chest.

“I necked it in,” Tadeo-Gilbert said.

From there, the Lady Trojans continued to bottle up the league’s most prolific scorer. Kaile Halvorsen, who had a league-leading 29 goals, barely got a shot on goal all night.

It was the first time all season Kaiser failed to score a goal.

“She was frustrated. People in the stands were yelling, ‘Number 11’,” Tadeo-Gilbert said. “I know her good. We’re teammates at Surf (Soccer Club).”

Coach Ray Akiona now has guided the Trojans to nine OIA titles. The bedrock is defense.

“Halvorsen is a great player and we had to focus on her, but our team has balance on defense. We don’t want to overplay, but we communicate and double team and support each other.”

The Trojans will have a first-round bye at the state tourney, which begins on Feb. 5, and then continues Feb. 8-10. The time off will be a blessing to heal up minor injuries and recharge the batteries. Akiona expects a strong run from his unified squad. They took the longer road this time after finishing third in the OIA West. Only the top two in each division received playoff byes.

“We had to earn it, coming from the first day in the OIA (playoff) tournament. That gave us a wake-up call,” Akiona said.

Mililani defeated Kahuku 6-0 and Castle 2-0 before blanking Kaiser tonight, making it three shutouts in a five-day span.

“They never give up on each other,” Akiona said. “They’re so mature and composed, and that’s when good things come your way.”


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