KANEOHE — Moanalua pulled away from Kahuku in the final minutes of the game to earn a 2-0 victory at Castle High's field Saturday night.
The match featured a battle between the top two teams in the Oahu Interscholastic Association Eastern Division standings. Moanalua maintains its lead in league play and now has a record of 8-0-1 with 25 championship points.
The loss dropped the Red Raiders (7-2) into third place in the East with 21 championship points as Castle defeated Kailua earlier in the day to improve to 7-1-1 with 22 points.
In the first half both teams were unable to finish off their chances. The Red Raiders also lost their leading goal scorer, senior forward Kamaile Aluli, with an apparent right ankle injury 12 minutes into the match. Aluli leads the OIA in scoring with 16 goals.
"We do not know how bad her injury is," said Kahuku coach Jay Hix. "Hopefully not too bad. It's a bummer that someone got hurt. We were holding our own but we didn't get too many opportunities on goal."
In the second half both teams came out aggressive, but the game was put on hold in the 52nd minute when Moanalua's Shania Mohika, a senior right fullback, suffered a heavy injury to her right knee.
An ambulance was called and the game was stopped for about 30 minutes.
When play resumed, Moanalua came out motivated and focus. Na Menehune would take numerous shot opportunities on the Red Raiders' goal, but weren't able to make them count for most of the second half..
The match looked like it was heading towards a scoreless tie, but Moanalua was able to break through late in the contest. Sophomore Kelci Sumida, Moanalua's leading goal scorer, scored off a header to give Moanalua a 1-0 lead in the 72nd minute. Senior midfielder Tarynn Sales had the assist.
"My teammate (Tarynn) crossed the ball and I hit it up with my thigh," said Sumida. "It went straight up and then I just headed it into the goal. The injury to our teammate (Shania) definitely made us start to play harder and we wanted to win this game for her."
Kelci Sumida now has 12 goals on the season.
"That was the momentum shift," said Moanalua coach Nikki Dela Pena on Sumida's goal. "We were frustrated offensively and we knew that it was going to be a tough game. As soon as we got that first goal in, which is always the hardest, we quickly saw it shift right there."
Na Menehune weren't finish scoring just yet however. Shortly after Sumida's goal, Moanalua won a free kick just outside the Kahuku 18-yard box. Junior midfielder Alyssa Dela Pena lined up behind the ball and blasted a shot into the top right corner of the goal in the 75th minute.
"The right moments happened at the right times for us," said coach Dela Pena.
Moanalua has won seven straight games since a 2-2 draw with Kalaheo on Dec. 3.
Na Menehune will look to finish out the season strong next week Wednesday against Roosevelt and can clinch the East's top seed in the OIA Division I playoffs with a tie or a Castle loss.
Kahuku will look to bounce back against Kailua next Wednesday. The Red Raiders can earn a first round bye in the league's postseason tournament with a win over the Surfriders and if Kalaheo can beat or tie with Castle.
NOTE: This match was originally scheduled to be played at Kahuku, but was switched at the last minute to the field at Castle.
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