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Prep Football Preview
Game of the Week
Kalani Takase | ScoringLiveJanuary 26, 2017, 10:42pm
Thu, Jan 26, 2017 @ Castle
KANEOHE — Ayden Lawes picked a nice time to score his first varsity goal.
Lawes, a sophomore playing in just his second varsity contest, scored the game-winning goal in the 79th minute to help Mililani rally to a 3-2 semifinal win over defending champion Kalani Thursday night.
A crowd of about 300 fans at Castle saw the Trojans (11-0-1) erase a 2-1 deficit with two goals in the final six minutes to deny the Falcons (8-2-2) a chance at a second straight Oahu Interscholastic Association Division I title.
Mililani will try for its league-record 16th OIA championship when it faces Kapolei at 7 p.m. Saturday at Castle.
Thursday's game was a rematch of the 2015 league final, which the Trojans won in double-overtime.
"Every year is a new year, a whole new set of guys and situations, so it's always sweet to win," Mililani coach Steve McGehee said. "It's always a fun game when we get to play Kalani."
Mililani took its first lead in the 20th minute when senior fullback Kawika Zarko scored his second goal in as many games, this one coming off a corner kick from Trey Yogi. Zarko also scored a goal in Tuesday's 2-0 quarterfinal win over Castle.
Kalani pulled even just before halftime on Jonathan Casey's header off an assist from Brison Kim in the 39th minute. Kim served a free kick from about 25 yards away to the far post, where Casey headed in his second goal of the year.
"That reaffirmed that we were OK and that we could play with them, so that was a huge goal for us," said Ching, whose praised Casey's play after fellow center-back Roland Merrill suffered a leg injury and left the game in the 24th minute.
"Jonathan stepped up huge today; he was amazing. I've been riding Jonathan all year, but he came up huge today," Ching said.
The score held until the 71st minute, when the Falcons took the lead on Kim's team-leading eighth goal. Kim fired a right-footed blast from just outside the 18-yard box into the left side of the goal.
Kalani's lead was short-lived, however, as Jamin Fonseca scored the equalizer on a 20-yard direct free kick just three minutes later.
"I just clipped it in and luckily it just slipped in," said Fonseca, of his team-leading 14th goal of the year. "I was trying to find the back run, but it just slipped in, so God bless to that one."
With overtime looming, Lawes stunned the Falcons — and sent his team into celebratory-mode — when he collected a long goal kick just beyond midfield, took a couple of dribbles to his right before firing a right-footed shot from about 30 yards out into the lower left side of the goal.
"It's pretty crazy because I was just feeling it and it just happened. I can't even really remember," said Lawes. "It's pretty nuts."
Lawes was part of a seemingly-revolving door of substitutions the Trojans used.
"That guy is a super sub. We have a lot of super subs here," Fonseca said. "We have a deep bench and I think everyone on that bench has the capability of everyone on the field."
McGehee pulled Lawes up to the varsity following the JV season, which wrapped up a few weeks ago.
"We are very senior-laden, so I didn't raid our JV team like I probably would have in other years, so because we have 12 seniors I left him down and he was one of the probably three or four guys that were leaders of that group, but obviously he's a physical presence at 6-1 and just very aggressive, so it worked for us," McGehee said.
Lawes' physicality was the right fit for the spot the Trojans were in, McGehee said.
"The situation was conducive for him tonight. It was one of those smash-mouth games where pretty players were not going to persevere, so put the right person in at the right time and we got lucky," McGehee said.
Meanwhile, the result was a difficult pill to swallow for the Falcons.
"This is a tough one. To go up 2-1 against a team like this and to give up two goals in the last six minutes is just heartbreaking. I'm a little numb right now," Ching said. "I can't believe that I witnessed that, but I will say congratulations to Mililani. That's one hell of a team, but congratulations to our team, too. That's why I love coaching though, because this game was so fun to be in. Hopefully the fans enjoyed it, but I loved it."
Kalani, the Eastern Division's second seed, will face East top seed Kaiser for third place Friday, 7 p.m. at Kailua's Alex Kane Stadium.
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