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Game of the Week
Kalani Takase | ScoringLiveFebruary 3, 2018, 11:04pm
Sat, Feb 3, 2018 @ Kapolei
KAPOLEI — In a battle of stellar defenses, Kalani did just enough to get by rival Kaiser for its second league title in three seasons Saturday night.
Rei Naiki scored the game-winning goal off an assist from Kai Sigler two minutes into double overtime to lift Kalani, the No. 3 team in the ScoringLive/Hawaiian Electric Boys Soccer Power Rankings, to a 1-0 win over No. 4 Kaiser in the championship game of the Oahu Interscholastic Association Division I tournament.
A crowd of about 500 spectators at Kapolei's Alvin Nagasako Athletic Complex saw the Falcons (12-0-1) hand the Cougars (11-1-1) their first loss on the year.
Like their previous meeting this season — a 1-1 tie in the regular season on Jan. 17 — the Eastern Division rivals put on a well-played contest with each team having its scoring chances denied by the other time after time.
"I think there were definitely momentum shifts in the game," Kalani co-coach Brandon Chun said. "I think in the beginning, the first ten minutes or so, we had the momentum. As the game went on, I thought they picked up the momentum in the second half with their set pieces and all the free kicks."
After no score through 90 minutes — two 40-minute halves and one 10-minute overtime period — the teams headed to a second OT.
"Definitely in the first overtime we were just trying to hang on. The momentum was clearly in their favor at that point, so it was definitely just a momentum battle back and forth," Chun added.
Between overtimes, in the team huddle, Chun encouraged the Falcons to get more aggressive.
"He was just telling us to don't give up a goal and if we have a chance, we're going to just go and score," Sigler said.
Evidently, they heeded his words.
In the 92nd minute, Sigler gathered a pass at his feet along the right sideline. He then turned on the jets and split a pair of Kaiser defenders. Just as he reached the top of the 6-yard box, Sigler sent a cross to the left side. Naiki crashed the goal hard behind the goalie and in front of the back-side defender to redirect the pass into the netting.
"First, it was a clear and it went out of bounds and I saw an opening in the defense and I'm like, ‘It's now or never' and I just gave it my all," Sigler said.
The junior defender has thoughts of scoring the game-winning goal on his own, but recalled what Chun emphasized.
"I dribbled past and when I got to the line, I was about to just rip it into the goal, but I remembered what coach told us. He said, ‘go down the line and then just cross it in the middle,' and then I looked up and I saw Rei," Sigler said.
"And then I just ran into the goal," Naiki added. "I had to finish that."
It was Naiki's second goal this year and first since Dec. 23.
Chun applauded Sigler's hustle on the play, as well as Naiki's team-first attitude.
"That was just effort and determination. I mean, that was totally unplanned. Kai said he wanted the ball, got the ball and made a play for us. He came up huge, and then Rei, like all of them, he's just a really great guy, does what's asked of him, comes off the bench if he needs to. He got the start tonight with some of our injuries, but he just works hard," Chun said.
It was just the second goal given up by Kaiser this season and the first time it was shut out in a game.
"They were outstanding," Chun said of the defense. "I've said it before but hats off to Noah (Camacho), Jonathan (Casey), Keoni (Ichiyama), Kai. I mean, Kaiser has one of the best offenses in the state and to be able to hold them to zero (goals) in any game, let alone the championship game, that's an outstanding job by them."
Sigler, who plays the right-back position, said the focus for the back line was on limiting the amount of touches for Cougars' star forward Makana Srivongsana, who is tied for the state lead in goal scored this season with 17.
"Kaiser was probably our biggest challenge for our d-line with Makana," Sigler said. "He's really fast and he's the top scorer for Kaiser and our whole job was to just stop him and prevent shots and we did our job and it led to a goal."
The Falcons posted six shots on goal to the Cougars' five.
Each goalkeeper — Kalani's Sena Morimoto and Brandon Yasue of Kaiser — recorded five saves.
It was the second time the teams faced off this year. They played to a 1-1 tie during the regular season on Jan. 17.
"I think coming into this game we fully expected an eighty-minute battle. It went past that and I mean, just hats off to Kaiser. They battled and I think it was even most of the game. It was a typical rivalry game," Chun said.
The Cougars and Falcons have met in the OIA final in three of the past five seasons. Kaiser won in the 2014 championship game by a score of 3-1, but Kalani returned the favor two years later in a 1-0 victory.
Both teams have qualified for The Queen's Medical Center/HHSAA State Championships, which gets underway on Feb. 12. Kalani will have one of four seeded berths in the 12-team tournament and a first-round bye.
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