Kalaheo’s Adam Ferguson didn’t have an exact crystal ball into Monday’s huge upset victory over ‘Iolani, but he did have a general feeling the Mustangs would be making a strong showing this season.
With defensive mastery, a slick field and a little luck, the Mustangs upended the host Raiders 1-0 (4-3 PKs) in the Division I first round of The Queen’s Medical Center/HHSAA Boys Soccer State Championships.
Wearing jersey No. 21, Ferguson and his mates in the back were stellar. Fans in the “press” box at Eddie Hamada Field continued to say, “That was 21 again,” after yet another blocked shot from the potent Raiders attack.
Ferguson, however, was not the only one stuffing ‘Iolani. Huge contributions were made by goalkeeper Braden Uehara and fullbacks Tristan Atwater, Alex Braswell and Keagan Roth.
The victory gave Kalaheo (11-3) a spot in the quarterfinals Thursday at Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium against third-seeded BIIF champion Waiakea.
Let it be noted that Kalaheo, which got as far as the semifinals in the OIA playoffs and played tough while being eliminated by host Kapolei 2-0, was a Division II squad last year.
The Mustangs moved up to D-I after being pretty successful in D-II under coach John Nakagawa. Now, they can make a real splash by continuing to win. Three more games — with the competition likely to get tougher — and they’ll be the best team in the island chain.
But that is far off. Still, a talk with three of the Mustangs players after Monday’s win revealed that this team is special and has a shot to do just that.
“In the past, the team did not play a lot of club or in the offseason, and in the end if you do that, you’re not going anywhere,” Ferguson said. “Most of us have played club together. We’ve known each other for so long. When we first got here, when I was a 10th grader and most of these guys were in ninth grade, we were all starters, so it was bound to happen that we were going to get here.
“I was anticipating this and I’m just so happy that it’s finally come together. I’ve been seeing this happen for years.”
Added Atwater: “It’s all about heart and our team gave that. We definitely have what it takes. We have a lot of talent on this team. It’s scary because no one knows us because we were coming up from D-II.”
And this from midfielder Teo Stohler: “I thought we just pushed really hard, gave it our all, attacked every ball. I think we can go farther. Yeah, we’re really good. We just need to work hard like we’re doing. We came into it with a really good mind-set.”
Kalaheo is not a stranger to the OIA and state soccer scene. Under Nakagawa, the Mustangs won OIA D-II titles in 2013 and 2019.
The school’s glory years came in the ’80s and ’90s, with OIA D-I championships in 1984, ’86, ’94, ’96 and ’98.
Another theme coming from fans in the press box Monday: the Kalaheo vs. ‘Iolani game was a great example of tough, physical soccer played with utmost sportsmanship.
Eddie Maruyama, an ‘Iolani co-athletic director, said, “This is the most sportsmanship I’ve seen in soccer.”
Wendell Look, another Raiders co-AD, congratulated Kalaheo AD Mark Brilhante afterward. Look showed his style of sportsmanship with a big smile on his face and without an ounce of sullenness after his school was eliminated.
“Oh yeah,” he said. “That was really a great game and a great effort put in by Kalaheo.”
Division I State Tournament
|1||Feb. 10||Hilo vs. Kaiser||Kais, 2-0||Hilo Bayfront|
|2||Feb. 10||Pearl City vs. Kalani||Kaln, 6-1||Kalani|
|3||Feb. 10||KS-Maui vs. Mililani||Mil, 2-0||KS-Maui|
|4||Feb. 10||'Iolani vs. Kalaheo||Kalh, 1-0 (4-3 PKs)||'Iolani|
|5||Feb. 13||(4) King Kekaulike vs. Kalani||Kaln, 4-0||Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium|
|6||Feb. 13||(3) Waiakea vs. Kalaheo||Waik, 2-1 (OT)||Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium|
|7||Feb. 13||(2) Kapolei vs. Mililani||Mil, 1-0||Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium|
|8||Feb. 13||(1) Punahou vs. Kaiser||Pun, 4-1||Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium|
|9*||Feb. 14||Kaiser vs. King Kekaulike||Kais, 4-3||Waipio|
|10*||Feb. 14||Kapolei vs. Kalaheo||Kapo, 3-0||Waipio|
|11||Feb. 14||Mililani vs. Waiakea||Mil, 3-2||Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium|
|12||Feb. 14||Punahou vs. Kalani||Pun, 2-1||Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium|
|13*||Feb. 15||Kaiser vs. Kapolei||Kais, 2-0||Waipio|
|14*||Feb. 15||Kalani vs. Waiakea||Waik, 5-4||Waipio|
|15||Feb. 15||Mililani vs. Punahou||Pun, 3-2||Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium|
|* — consolation|
Division II State Tournament
|1||Feb. 13||(1) Kapaa vs. Makua Lani||Kapa, 3-1||Waipio|
|2||Feb. 13||(4) Aiea vs. Seabury Hall||SH, 5-1||Waipio|
|3||Feb. 13||(2) Hawaii Prep vs. Waipahu||HPA, 4-0||Waipio|
|4||Feb. 13||(3) Pac-Five vs. KS-Hawaii||KSH, 1-0||Waipio|
|5*||Feb. 14||Makua Lanai vs. Aiea||ML, 5-2||Waipio|
|6*||Feb. 14||Waipahu vs. Pac-Five||P5, 3-1||Waipio|
|7||Feb. 14||Hawaii Prep vs. KS-Hawaii||HPA, 1-0||Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium|
|8||Feb. 14||Kapaa vs. Seabury Hall||Kapa, 3-0||Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium|
|9*||Feb. 15||Makua Lani vs. Pac-Five||Tie, 0-0||Waipio|
|10*||Feb. 15||Seabury Hall vs. KS-Hawaii||KSH, 4-0||Waipio|
|11||Feb. 15||Kapaa vs. Hawaii Prep||HPA, 2-0||Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium|
|* — consolation|