A 1-0 lead in soccer can be precarious, and it was very much so Saturday night.
Kamehameha wound up holding off a Campbell offensive flurry over the last 15 minutes for a 1-0 victory in the Division I final of The Queen’s Medical Center/HHSAA Girls Soccer State Championships at Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium.
The upstart Sabers (12-5-1) came oh-so close to tying it up and sending it to overtime. Cheyenne Mattos‘ 35-yard direct kick early in the second half had eyes for the top of the goal, but was pushed up by goalkeeper Caela Kaio‘s deft hands and banged off the crossbar and then out of play.
That’s enough to drive the coach of the leading team crazy, but there were other frenetic moments later on that prompted Kamehameha coach Missy Moore to say “I’m exhausted” afterward.
Mattos, Jourdyn Curran, Haley Blossom Seleni and Hokulei Ishikawa continued to mount the attack for Campbell, but the Kamehameha defenders swept everything aside. Ishikawa, in particular, had a golden chance with about 10 minutes to go, but her effort sailed high.
In the long run, Saturday night belonged to the Warriors, who controlled most of the first half and some of the second with better field position and ball possession.
Moore breathed a sigh of relief after the final whistle, so happy that this fantastic season is done and her team is at the top. She guided the Warriors (13-2) to state crowns in 2012 and 2014, but had come up empty with this group of seniors who came aboard in 2016. The squad did win its second straight ILH championship, but it was the states they were after.
And it was the states they got.
“That was a tough one,” Moore admitted.
A lot tougher than the previous two tournament games, in which top-seeded Kamehamaheha cruised to victories of 3-0 over Mililani and 6-0 over MIL champion and fourth-seeded King Kekaulike.
When rugged center back Hayley Silipa went down with an injury late in the contest, the Warriors didn’t panic. Moore inserted Kitty Jones-Black, a potent offensive weapon as a senior striker, into that position.
Jones-Black plays center back in club and she played that same position as a freshman for Kamehameha. She helped seal the deal in the defensive zone with the championship on the line.
“I felt like we stayed composed,” she said. “Coach Missy places me where she needs me.
“We’ve worked so hard, and I feel like it paid off. Honestly, I’m blanked out because it feels not real. My teammates are so amazing. I love them. There’s no words. You look at them and you’re happy.”
Leah Feato scored the game-winner for the Warriors in the first half. Stationed in the box, she took a chip from Carley Park, turned and deposited a low shot into the goal.
Park, a key wing back for the squad, was a true believer.
“Yes, I can believe it,” she said, when asked if the reality of the moment had set in. “We pushed so hard, with everyone working for each other. There were definitely some scares. I knew we could push through. We made sure to stay strong and keep all the goals away.”
Kamehameha secured its ninth state championship. Campbell, which lost in the 2015 semifinals, was playing in its first D-I state final.
Sabers coach James Curran was smiling afterward, knowing his team just missed.
“We didn’t win the game, but we won in a lot of ways,” he said. “These girls are creating a path for the younger generation coming on.”
HHSAA D-I Tournament
|1||Jan. 28||Hilo vs. Mililani||Mil, 2-0||Hilo|
|2||Jan. 28||Pearl City vs. Kapolei||PC, 5-0||Kapolei|
|3||Jan. 28||KS-Maui vs. Campbell||Camp, 1-0||KS-Maui|
|4||Jan. 28||Moanalua vs. 'Iolani||Iol, 3-0||'Iolani|
|5||Jan. 31||(4) King Kekaulike vs. Pearl City||KK, 3-2 (PKs)||Waipio|
|6||Jan. 31||(3) Konawaena vs. 'Iolani||Kona, 2-1 (5-4 PKs)||Waipio|
|7||Jan. 31||(2) Aiea vs. Campbell||Camp, 2-0||Waipio|
|8||Jan. 31||(1) Kamehameha vs. Mililani||KSK, 3-0||Waipio|
|9*||Feb. 1||Pearl City vs. Mililani||Mil, 3-2 (PKs)||Waipio|
|10*||Feb. 1||'Iolani vs. Aiea||Iol, 3-1||Waipio|
|11||Feb. 1||Konawaena vs. Campbell||Camp, 3-0||Waipio|
|12||Feb. 1||King Kekaulike vs. Kamehameha||KSK, 6-0||Waipio|
|13*||Feb. 2||Mililani vs. 'Iolani||Iol, 4-1||Waipio|
|14*||Feb. 2||Konawaena vs. King Kekaulike||Kona, 1-0||Waipio|
|15||Feb. 2||Campbell vs. Kamehameha||KSK, 1-0||Waipio|
|* — consolation|