After a stunning turn of events on Thursday afternoon, Friday’s HHSAA Division I boys’ soccer semifinals will include three neighbor-island teams and zero OIA squads.
Instead, it will feature two MIL teams in fourth-seeded Baldwin and King Kekaulike, as well as No. 3 seed Hawaii Prep from the BIIF and top seed Punahou from the ILH.
The upset that made this scenario possible was King Kekaulike’s 2-1 victory over No. 2 Kalani at Waipahu. The Falcons entered Thursday undefeated at 12-0-1 and gave up just one goal all season, until Na Ali’i’s Kade Taniguchi and Jerycho Medeiros stunned Kalani with long-distance goals.
Despite also finishing the regular season undefeated, King Kekaulike (9-0-3) finished second in the MIL to Baldwin because of the league’s point system. Na Ali’i played the Bears twice this season, playing them to a 1-1 draw the first time before a 3-1 victory on Jan. 10.
“Everyone knew that we were underdogs. We’re used to being underdogs in the MIL,” Medeiros said. “We came out here, tried our hardest and came out with the win.”
“We feel great,” Taniguchi added. “We just had that mind-set before the game that we’re here to win and that’s pretty much it.”
King Kekaulike beat Pearl City 2-1 in Maui on Monday, while Kalani was idle because the Falcons earned a bye as the OIA champion. Regardless of if Na Ali’i plays for bronze or gold on Saturday, they will have played four matches over six days. Although it is a tough ask, co-head coach Tye Perdido believes his team is well-equipped for it.
“We got in really good prep before the season started in training the guys, running them and making sure we were doing stuff specific to soccer as opposed to the cross-country type of running,” he said. “Since then, we’ve just been maintaining it and the guys have been playing a lot of minutes recently so we’ve been trying to just get them rested, get them rehabbing in order to be ready for this tournament since it is pretty much back-to-back games.”
Na Ali’i’s training has already paid dividends, as they appeared to be the more well-conditioned team despite Kalani’s bye. The Falcons made 14 substitutions, although head coach Michael Ching attributed that more toward “trying to find a key spark.” King Kekaulike used three.
After winning its first HHSAA title in 2013, Kalani’s hopes of winning state crown No. 2 came to a fortuitous end on Thursday. To Ching, who was at the helm during the team’s memorable run five years ago, the program remains in solid shape.
“I told the boys that I’m very proud and we had a great year. We went to Japan and we won the OIA championship,” Ching said. “It’s always tough to lose, but when you get beat, King Kekaulike was just better than us today.
“It doesn’t necessarily end here. We have a lot of juniors and we only lose around three or four juniors that started. We’ll use this as motivation to be back.”
King Kekaulike takes on Hawaii Prep at 5 p.m. at the main field of Waipio Peninsula Soccer Complex, while Punahou and Baldwin’s matchup takes place right after. Baldwin advanced to the semis with a 2-0 victory over Kapolei, while Hawaii Prep outlasted ‘Iolani 2-1. Punahou finished Thursday’s nightcap with a 3-0 victory over Mililani.
|1||Feb. 12||'Iolani vs. Moanalua||Iol, 4-0||'Iolani|
|2||Feb. 12||Kaiser vs. Kapolei||Kapo, 3-1||Kaiser|
|3||Feb. 12||King Kekaulike vs. Pearl City||KK, 2-1||War Memorial Stadium|
|4||Feb. 12||Waiakea vs. Mililani||Mil, 3-1||Waiakea|
|5||Feb. 15||(4) Baldwin vs. Kapolei||Bald, 2-0||Waipahu|
|6||Feb. 15||(2) Kalani vs. King Kekaulike||KK, 2-1||Waipahu|
|7||Feb. 15||(3) Hawaii Prep vs. 'Iolani||HPA, 2-1||Waipahu|
|8||Feb. 15||(1) Punahou vs. Mililani||Pun, 3-0||Waipahu|
|9*||Feb. 16||Kapolei vs. Mililani||Kapo, 5-2||Waipio|
|10*||Feb. 16||Kalani vs. 'Iolani||Iol, 1-0||Waipio|
|11||Feb. 16||King Kekaulike vs. Hawaii Prep||HPA, 3-2||Waipio|
|12||Feb. 16||Baldwin vs. Punahou||Bald, 3-1||Waipio|
|13*||Feb. 17||Kapolei vs. 'Iolani||Iol, 1-0||Waipio|
|14*||Feb. 17||King Kekaulike vs. Punahou||Pun, 2-1||Waipio|
|15||Feb. 17||Hawaii Prep vs. Baldwin||PPD., co-champs||Waipio|
|* — consolation|