Chase for the Championship
No. 10 Baldwin, No. 1 Punahou to meet in semis


 



WAIPAHU — The trials and tribulations of inter-island travel were not enough to slow down the Baldwin boys soccer team Thursday.

Chris Barry and Daniel Souza each scored a goal to lead fourth-seeded Baldwin to a 2-0 win over Kapolei in the quarterfinal round of The Queen's Medical Center/HHSAA Division I Boys Soccer State Championships at Waipahu's Masa Yonamine Athletic Complex Thursday afternoon.

The Maui Interscholastic League champion Bears, No. 10 in the ScoringLive/Hawaiian Electric Power Rankings, improved to 9-1-1 and will play two-time defending champion and tournament top seed Punahou in the 7 p.m. semifinal at Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium Friday.

The Hurricanes, who finished sixth in the Oahu Interscholastic Association and were coming off a 3-1 win over No. 3 Kaiser in Monday's first round of the tournament, fell to 11-4. They will play No. 5 Mililani in a 1 p.m. consolation match Friday on Field No. 9.

Despite the win, it was hardly smooth sailing in the lead up to the 1 p.m. kickoff.

The Bears' flight out of Kahului International Airport was slightly delayed and upon arrival in Honolulu, there was an issue at the rental car counter that put them further behind schedule.

Additionally, the HHSAA announced at about 9 a.m. Thursday morning that the four quarterfinals originally scheduled to take place at Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium would be moved to nearby Waipahu and its new artificial playing surface.

When they finally arrived at the new venue, the Bears found themselves with only about 20 minutes of warm-up time.

Ultimately, it did them no harm.

"I don't think it did; I thought we were ready," Baldwin coach Kaniela Palazzotto said. "We were ready for the game."

Palazzotto credited his veteran squad for staying mentally focused despite the travel woes.

"I think I've got a good, mature squad. They've kind of seen everything and for the seniors, they've been here four years in a row, and so they kind of know what to expect and I thought we were ready," Palazzotto said.

The teams played to a scoreless first half.

Just minutes after the Bears had an apparent goal waived off for a foul in the box, Barry put them ahead for good in the 59th minute with his goal from about 15 yards out that found the lower left corner of the net.

"We had a little combination at the top of the 18 (yard box) and then I had a ball insert to me, I took a touch, took another one past the defender and hit it backside," said Barry, a junior defensive midfielder.

Baldwin added an insurance goal in the closing seconds.

Angelo Deloso-Flocco put a shot on goal that was punched away by Kapolei goalkeeper Jason Catron. However, the rebound found its way to Souza, a senior center-mid, who put it away.

Barry said the Bears remained optimistic at the intermission.

"At halftime, we knew we were dominating the first half, so we had the mindset that if we just keep pushing, we know we'd get one and then if we get one, then another one would follow," Barry said.

It was the fifth shut out posted by Baldwin this season and just the second time that Kapolei has been blanked.

"I like defending; I want to make sure we give up no goals and we did a very good job of that," Palazzotto said.

Baldwin had six shots on goal to Kapolei's seven.

"I think in the first half we had the ball, it was more in their half, but hats off to them, I think they did a better job in the central area of the field, as far as ball-winning and being able to connect. We just had trouble connecting our passes and keeping the ball at times," Hurricanes co-coach Ryan Lau said.

Elliott Tom made six saves in goal for the Bears, while Catron posted three stops.

The teams met in the preseason, with Kapolei coming away with a 2-0 win.

"We played them in the final of their tournament on a back-to-back day and we were really not in shape in the preseason for a back-to-back game and so we ended up losing to them, but it was good that we got to see them," Palazzotto said.

Barry said Thursday's rematch provided a chance at redemption.

"It gave us a big confidence boost, because they did beat us, so we thought ‘we'll come back at them now and we'll get what we deserve,' " Barry said.

Baldwin will be making its second straight state semifinals appearance. It lost to Kaiser, 1-0, last season.

Kapolei, which defeated No. 3 Kaiser, 3-1, in Monday's first round, was seeking a third consecutive trip to the final four.

No. 1 PUNAHOU 3, No. 5 MILILANI 0
Three different players scored a second-half goal and top-ranked Punahou advanced by No. 5 Mililani, 3-0, in the late quarterfinal at Waipahu Thursday night.

After a scoreless first half, Lucas Milne put the two-time defending state champion Buffanblu (12-1) ahead with his goal in the 43rd minute. Six minutes later, Micah Williams scored to make a 2-0 lead and Max Moonier closed out the scoring with his goal in the 67th minute off a direct free kick.

The Trojans (12-2-1), who finished third in the Oahu Interscholastic Association and were coming off a 3-1 win over Waiakea in Monday's opening round, lost in the quarterfinal round for a second consecutive year.

Punahou coach David Trifonovitch said he emphasized midfield possession during his halftime talk with his team.

"We just said that we needed to come out and control the middle of the field a little bit better," Trifonovitch said. "Mililani is so tall and good in the air that we were kind of getting bypassed, so we went back with the game plan of ‘let's control that middle and get the ball through our midfielders,' and it worked."

Milne, a senior forward, ripped a right-footed shot from about 25 yards out that scooted under Mililani goalkeeper Nicholas Gaston and into the lower left corner of the goal.

"It helps when our guy up front steals a ball and goes in a score a goal," Trifonovitch said of Milne. "You know, that just gives everybody confidence so you've got to give credit to Lucas just for that hustle goal and he finished it very well."

Milne was one of a large number of Buffanblu reserves that saw considerable game time.

"Our starting lineup is very fluid (because) we're so deep," Trifonovitch said. "I tell guys, ‘Look, it doesn't matter if you start. You start and play five minutes and the other guy goes in and plays 35, I'd rather be the second guy,' so it just depends on who's the hot hand. We're always looking for that hot hand."

Williams, a senior forward, scored on a breakaway in the 49th minute to make it a two-goal cushion before Moonier, a junior midfielder, blasted his 25-yard free kick off the Mililani wall of defenders and into the left side of the goal in the 67th minute.

It was the first game since Jan. 30 for the Buffanblu, who had a first-round bye Monday.

"There was some rust," Trifonovitch said. "We made some bad touches. Max Moonier, who's usually stellar in our midfield, was missing balls and missing touches, so it took a little bit for us to get that back. Even though you simulate and you scrimmage each other, and we scrimmaged PAC-5, it's just not the same thing as a live game."

Punahou, the Interscholastic League of Honolulu champion and tournament top seed, will meet 10th-ranked and fourth-seeded Baldwin in Friday's semifinals at Waipio Peninsula Soccer Complex.

Kickoff between the Buffanblu and Bears is scheduled for 7 p.m. in the main stadium and will follow the early semifinal between No. 6 Hawaii Prep (13-0) and No. 8 King Kekaulike (9-0-3) at 5 p.m.

Mililani will play Kapolei in a 1 p.m. consolation game Friday at Field No. 9



Reach Kalani Takase at [email protected].


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