WAIALAE - Goalkeeper Michael Stafford made two saves in the penalty-kicks phase and Kalani edged Castle, 1-0, Saturday in a crucial O'ahu Interscholastic Association Red East boys' soccer game at the Falcons' field.
The defending East champion Falcons (7-2), who won the penalty kicks, 4-3, are a win away from at least a share of the division crown and the East's top seed for the OIA Red tournament. Kalani has head-to-head tie-breakers on Kalaheo and Kaiser, the only other teams with the same record as the Falcons. Kalani closes regular season Monday at McKinley (1-8).
The Knights fell to 6-3.
"We came in knowing it was going to be a tough game," Castle coach Marc Lachance said. "They're a fast team; they have a lot of talent. So to come in hold them scoreless for 80 minutes was…I'm proud of my boys."
During 80 minutes of regulation, Kalani seemed to have control, but just could not find the back of the net. Castle's defense successfully defended a number of corner kicks and throw-ins from the near the corners.
"It was kind of frustrating," Stafford said. "We had some good set pieces, but we couldn't finish it. But this is just another stepping stone, learn from it and improve."
In the penalty-kicks phase, Stafford stayed in as goalkeeper, but Castle switched from Micah Moon to field player Ikaika Urasaki.
"He's a very talented field player," Lachance said. "He's a very talented offensive player, defensive player and keeper."
Castle went up first and PJ Chang hit the right corner. But the Falcons tied it on Ryan Bui's shot in the same area.
The Knights' Alex Tovar fired a straight shot that was blocked by Stafford. Kalani went ahead on Toshihiro Kosins shot that squeezed through out-stretched hands of Urasaki and rolled into the goal to put Kalani up, 2-1.
Castle's Royce Nagahashi tied it with a shot to the right, but Kalani regained the lead when Shawn Donnelly hit the top right of the goal.
The Knights' Dakotah Graham tied by firing to the top left, only to see Kalani regain the lead, 4-3, when Kai Abihai hit the top right of the goal.
Urasaki, the team's leader scorer with nine goals, had his shot stuffed by Stafford to clinch it for the Falcons.
"It was thrilling," Stafford said of the clinching save.
Penalty kicks heavily favor the kicker, making it a guessing game for the keeper.
"My coach always tells me to just trust myself and go one way and hope for the best," Stafford said. "We came out with a 'W' and I'm really proud of the way we played."