The two best girls soccer teams in the state made it through to the state final with wins Friday night, so if you haven’t attended a match this year, you will want to go to Saturday’s ‘Iolani vs. Mililani showdown.
It’s at 7 p.m. at Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium.
The Raiders haven’t lost all year long, but because of three ties in the ILH, they finished behind one-loss Punahou in the standings and were not seeded for the states.
As a result, ‘Iolani (12-0-3) had to take the long road by traveling to Konawaena last week and beating Kahuku and third-seeded Baldwin to make it to Friday’s semifinal against Campbell, when they scored a 2-1 victory over the OIA champion and second-seeded Sabers.
For Raiders coach Kristin Masunaga, the road to get to the final was rockier than she would have liked.
“We didn’t play well (on the trip to Konawaena), but we got by,” she said.
Masunaga did not feel the same about Friday’s performance in which the Raiders clicked pretty much from beginning to end with outstanding ball control.
“I thought we played well,” she added. “I’m hoping we play our best game of the season tomorrow (Saturday).”
Kristen Hori scored twice for the Raiders to erase a 1-0 early deficit.
The Trojans (14-1-1) have a similar story. They lost to Campbell in the OIA title game, their only loss, and have kept plugging away to make the state final despite being unseeded. Their biggest accomplishment so far since then is a 3-2 comeback win over Punahou in the quarterfinals last week.
On Friday, they eliminated Big Island champ and fourth-seeded Konawaena 2-1 after falling behnd 1-0.
Tia Furuta, a big part of Mililani’s offensive engine all season, scored to tie it, and midfielder Kayla Braunthal notched the game-winner in the 74th minute on a breakaway after taking a through ball from Kasey Isobe.
“When we play ILH teams, the game is a lot faster,” said Braunthal, who used her speed to beat two defenders to get to the ball and then put a left-footed (opposite foot) shot into the net with a defender draped on her back. “They (‘Iolani) move the ball really well. They have great ball possession and they are composed. We shouldn’t let down just because Punahou placed ahead of them in the ILH. We need to come out even harder.”
Hori said the Raiders must remember to play their game — which is based on skilled passing and possession —and dictate the pace by continuing to press.
In two of Mililani’s big games this season, it appeared very much like the result came down to which team wanted it more (a 2-1 loss to Campbell in the OIA title game and the 3-2 win over Punahou).
That could very well be the case Saturday night. The team that wants it more and goes all out to win the battles for ball possession will likely have the key to the state title.