It was the most post-overtime penalty kicks Taylor Venenciano has seen in a soccer match, but there are those who have witnessed more than the 11 by each team in ‘Iolani’s 1-0 (9-8 PKs) state-tournament victory over Moanalua on Tuesday.
The Raiders (11-3-1) finally edged Na Menehune (10-3-1) when Venenciano sealed it with a goal on the 22nd PK.
Moanalua coach Nikki Dela Pena remembers a game in which there were 23 kicks by each side, and ‘Iolani coach Kristin Masunaga recalls the Raiders playing Baldwin that had 15 shooters each side.
Still, the length of Tuesday’s PK marathon session was rare. The host Raiders spent most of regulation and overtime in the Moanalua end, and a loss after such a complete performance would have been devastating.
But, thankfully for ‘Iolani, a quarterfinal game against Hilo is next up. On the flip side, despite coming close to pulling off a game in which they were outplayed, Na Menehune is out of championship contention.
Masunaga’s team has struggled finishing off its offensive plays this season.
After Tuesday’s match and with the knowledge of that particular weakness which almost bit them, Masunaga smiled and, almost in a dead-pan manner, said, “We have to score. We definitely have to score.”
You can be as creative as you want — and the Raiders are supremely creative on the pitch — but if you don’t score, you don’t win games and state titles.
“For us, the ultimate goal is to win states, with a smaller goal to make it there and work from there,” Masunaga said. “We’ll get at it tomorrow at practice. I don’t know much about Hilo, but I will call some friends and see what kind of information they have.”
On five separate occasions Tuesday, Moanalua (which shot first every PK round) — with leads of 4-3, 5-4, 6-5, 7-6 and 8-7 — could have finished it off had ‘Iolani missed its next shot. Facing that intense pressure, ‘Iolani’s Alexandra Masca, Sasha Asselbaye, Mary Shin, Marea Lee and Taylor Arakaki all came through to keep their team in it.
A string of three saves in a row, including two by the Raiders’ Musuai Isaia and one by Na Menehune’s Alexis Davis, kept the score knotted at 8 and led to Venenciano’s winning kick.
That particular save by Davis was an amazing effort in which she started to her right and switched on somewhat slippery ground to dive to her left and stop a low shot by ‘Iolani’s Kaitlin Uemoto. Earlier, during regulation and overtime, Davis made several diving stops and was helped by the post twice and the crossbar once to maintain the scoreless tie, and she also had one other diving save in PKs.
“A lot of hearts dropped when the goalie saved it,” Na Menehune defender Jolina Saroca said, referring to Isaia’s two clutch PK stops.
One ‘Iolani fan, during the excruciatingly intense drama, said, “My heart is pounding.”
Despite playing a high-powered brand of soccer, the Raiders were nearly eliminated. It wasn’t the first time this season, either. Had Punahou defeated Kamehameha for the second-round ILH title, ‘Iolani would not have made the state tournament. Instead the Raiders are in the big show for the ninth time in the last 11 seasons.
Masunaga’s Raiders did not win the league last year, but went on to earn the state D-I title. They’re trying to accomplish the same thing this year for the program’s sixth state banner.
The Division I portion of states continues with games at Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium from Thursday through Saturday.
|1||Feb. 5||Pearl City vs. Konawaena||PC, 4-1||Konawaena|
|2||Feb. 5||Kaiser vs. Aiea||Kais, 1-0||Kaiser|
|3||Feb. 5||KS-Maui vs. Waipahu||KSM, 1-0 (OT)||KS-Maui|
|4||Feb. 6||Moanalua vs. 'Iolani||Iol, 1-0 (9-8 PKs)||'Iolani|
|5||Feb. 8||(4) Kealakehe vs. Kaiser||Kais, 4-1||Waipio|
|6||Feb. 8||(3) Hilo vs. 'Iolani||Iol, 4-1||Waipio|
|7||Feb. 8||(2) Mililani vs. Kamehameha-Maui||Mil, 6-1||Waipio|
|8||Feb. 8||(1) Kamehameha vs. Pearl City||PC, 1-0 (7-6 PKs)||Waipio|
|9*||Feb. 9||Kealakehe vs. Kamehameha||KSK, 1-0||Waipio|
|10*||Feb. 9||Hilo vs. KS-Maui||Hilo, 3-0||Waipio|
|11||Feb. 9||'Iolani vs. Mililani||Iol, 1-0||Waipio|
|12||Feb. 9||Kaiser vs. Pearl City||PC, 2-1 (3-2 PKs)||Waipio|
|13*||Feb. 10||Kamehameha vs. Hilo||KSK, 2-1||Waipio|
|14*||Feb. 10||Kaiser vs. Mililani||Mil, 3-0||Waipio|
|15||Feb. 10||'Iolani vs. Pearl City||Iol, 1-0||Waipio|
|* — consolation|