The field-goal kicker’s big moment didn’t quite add up to victory, but Mililani still found a way to get past Kalani 3-2 in the OIA boys soccer semifinals at Kaiser Stadium on Thursday night.
Liam McGehee, who in the fall was a place-kicker for the state Open Division runner-up Trojans football team, put Mililani ahead 2-1 with about 11 minutes to go on a 50-yard free-kick blast that skimmed off the turf and bounded high into the left corner.
Kalani, however, refused to give in. Saying the Falcons made life difficult for the Trojans until the final whistle is an understatement. With less than two minutes to go, they made it 2-2 on Brison Kim‘s low shot from the left wing to the right corner.
It looked like overtime was coming, but the Trojans snuck in the game-winner when Noah Ungos‘ converted Jvon Cunningham‘s cross.
From there, Kalani kept the heat on but could not get the needed goal.
Mililani (12-0) is now one win away from a 17th OIA championship, but the Trojans face a major challenge Saturday against Kapolei, a team they beat 1-0 in the regular season.
“We have been fortunate enough to play against quality Kapolei teams for the last 10 years,” Mililani coach Steve McGehee, Liam’s father, said. “Every game we play against them, no matter who is out there, it’s always a battle. A lot of these players from both teams play on the same club teams. The coaches know each other. It’s like playing against Kalani. When the draw came out for this tournament, we said that if we were going to win it would have to be by going through all the tough teams. We like that. We have a blue-collar group. We may have one or two special players, but these kids work hard at getting whatever they can get.”
Kim, who ended with a goal and an assist, was a thorn in the Trojans’ side.
“Brison is a special player,” McGehee said. “He created problems and mismatches all over the field. We knew we had to have field awareness of him and he still burned us a couple of times in the process.”
Moving ahead, McGehee said he will be focusing on what did not get done.
“We work on creating opportunities and were able to do that tonight,” he said. “But we left a few out there and probably should have done better with those.”
Win or lose on Saturday, Mililani will also be aiming at a seventh Division I title in the upcoming state tournament.
Kalani (10-2) is also headed to states, going for a second crown to go with the one it won in 2013. The Falcons failed in their bid at a third OIA championship. They play against Kaiser, a team they lost to 4-3 in the regular season, today in the third-place match at Castle.
“Congrats to Mililani,” Kalani coach Mike Ching said. “We scored to tie it up and they had the balls to get it back. Great game in general. I’m disappointed we lost. I thought we played well enough to win and it didn’t bounce our way.
“The OIAs is very important, but states is more important. This helped prepare us for states. We think Mililani is a quality team that could win states, and this game could easily have been 3-2 us.”
OIA PlayoffsUpdated: Jan. 26
|1/21||Campbell||Moanalua||Camp, 2-1 (5-4 PKs)|
|1/21||Pearl City**||Kahuku||PC, 5-1|
|1/22||Kaiser||Pearl City||Kais, 3-2|
|Consolation semifinals — At Castle|
|1/23||Roosevelt||Pearl City||PC, 3-0|
|Semifinals — At Kaiser|
|Fifth place — At Castle|
|1/25||Campbell||Pearl City||PC, 3-1|
|Third place — At Castle|
|Championship — At Kaiser|
|First round — At Farrington|
|1/23||Aiea||Farrington||Aiea, 1-0 (OT)|
|Semifinals — At Kailua|
|Third place — At Kaiser|
|1/26||Waipahu||Aiea||Waip, 1-0 (PKs)|
|Championship — At Kaiser|
|* — @ Campbell|
|** — @ Roosevelt|
|*** — @ Mililani|
|**** — @ Kaiser|