Hawaii Prep’s complete performance steals D-II trophy from Kapaa

Hawaii Prep defender Nathaniel Lawton, left, forward Conor Hunt (14) and defender Grayson Phillips (4) celebrated as time ran out to give Hawaii Prep a 2-0 win over Kapaa in the Division II state final on Saturday. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.

There were no weaknesses evident in Hawaii Prep’s game Saturday night, and that was not good for Kapaa.

Ka Makani (13-3) returned to the top of the heap in Division II in The Queen’s Medical Center/HHSAA Boys Soccer State Championships by beating the Warriors 2-0 in the title match at Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium.

It was a sound and complete performance, from the back to the front.

“All year we’ve been pushing for reliability on the back line, making sure we’re communicating effectively,” Hawaii Prep defender Grayson Phillips said. “That’s a testament to the maturity of a very young back line. We’ve now played three games in this tournament and had maybe one real scoring opportunity against us. At the start of the season, we had trouble communicating. Now, it’s like we’re not even talking that much. We understand where we’re supposed to be.”

Phillips, a transfer from Minnesota this season, is the only senior among the four starters on the back line that includes sophomore Jordan Hanano and freshmen Noah Condon and Kanoa Blake.

The defense got some big help from highly skilled and technical midfielders Noah Furchner, a junior, and Dominick DiDonato, a sophomore, who were also superb in their “quarterbacking” skills.

“Those two spread the field, making that space and time in the middle, taking the time and picking apart the field,” Phillips said. “When their (the Warriors’) midfield was constantly trying to defend us, they were not able to set up their attacking shape.”

According to Hawaii Prep coach James Berry, who is from South Africa and who played college soccer in South Carolina, the team almost didn’t line up with those two particular midfielders this season.

“They both play a similar style, so we were going to go with more of a piston style,” he said. “We wanted a more offensive-minded player to go with one of them. But as the season went on, they just jelled. You could tell the vibe as it went that busting it up was going to hurt us. So we really pushed with those two central players, every game giving them tasks, every game giving certain goals to go out and get. Tonight was the best 80 minutes those two have put together offensively and defensively.”

Berry credited this particular lineup with giving more space to dangerous striker Conor Hunt, who scored the winning goal in the ninth minute before Daniel Jose Vidal Gayoso added another goal early in the second half.

Berry also believes the whole team played its best 80 minutes of the season.

“They saved the best for last,” he said. “The goal was set early. The saying for much of the season was, ‘What’s next?’ On Mondays, it was never the Wednesday game. It was Tuesday’s practice. After Tuesday’s practice, it was Wednesday’s game. Even tonight. What was next? One more half. We looked ahead to this (D-II state championship) goal but dropped it back. We wanted to be one of the top two in the BIIF. Winning the BIIF was the cream on top. Then we made our goals smaller and smaller and smaller and it turned into what’s next. Even yesterday, this wasn’t in sight. Next was tomorrow morning’s meeting. Here’s the one million and one things you’ve done so far. If someone along the line had done something different —- any one of them — maybe this track is different. So today, was a million and two.”

Kapaa (10-1-1) failed in its bid at repeating for the title. Ka Makani’s added its championships to the ones it won in 2016 and ’17. The team spent two years in Division I in ’18 and ’19, sharing the state D-I crown with Baldwin in ’18.

Division II State Tournament

Match #DateMatchupTime/ScoresSite
1Feb. 13(1) Kapaa vs. Makua LaniKapa, 3-1Waipio
2Feb. 13(4) Aiea vs. Seabury HallSH, 5-1Waipio
3Feb. 13(2) Hawaii Prep vs. WaipahuHPA, 4-0Waipio
4Feb. 13(3) Pac-Five vs. KS-HawaiiKSH, 1-0Waipio
5*Feb. 14Makua Lanai vs. AieaML, 5-2Waipio
6*Feb. 14Waipahu vs. Pac-FiveP5, 3-1Waipio
7Feb. 14Hawaii Prep vs. KS-HawaiiHPA, 1-0Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium
8Feb. 14Kapaa vs. Seabury HallKapa, 3-0Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium
9*Feb. 15Makua Lani vs. Pac-FiveTie, 0-0Waipio
10*Feb. 15Seabury Hall vs. KS-HawaiiKSH, 4-0Waipio
11Feb. 15Kapaa vs. Hawaii PrepHPA, 2-0Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium
* — consolation


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