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Prep Football Preview
Game of the Week
Kalani Takase | ScoringLiveFebruary 15, 2018, 7:47pm
Thu, Feb 15, 2018 @ Waipahu
WAIPAHU — No. 6 Hawaii Prep scored one goal in each half en route to a 2-1 win over No. 4 Iolani in the quarterfinals of The Queen's Medical Center/HHSAA Division I Boys Soccer State Championships at Waipahu's Masa Yonamine Athletic Complex Thursday evening.
Ka Makani, the third seed in the tournament and champions of the Big Island Interscholastic Federation, improved to 13-0 and will play Maui Interscholastic League runner-up King Kekaulike at 5 p.m. Friday in the semifinal round at the Waipio Peninsula Soccer Complex main stadium.
The unseeded Raiders, runners-up in the Interscholastic League of Honolulu, fell to 9-3-2 with the loss. They will play No. 2 Kalani in a fifth-place semifinal at 1 p.m. Friday at Field No. 10.
Due to heavy rains Wednesday, Thursday's D1 quarterfinals were relocated from Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium's natural grass surface to Waipahu's artificial-turf field.
The match was a far cry from the last time the teams met this year in the preseason.
"We played Iolani on turf in December, and they beat us 5-1, so I was a little worried that they were going to be a little more prepared on turf than us — we don't ever play on turf, we don't know it — but the boys came out and played with joy and played with focus and sometimes the surface doesn't even matter," Ka Makani coach Rich Braithwaite said.
Jake Schneider opened the scoring in the 20th minute on an assist from Ilan Naibryf on a set piece.
An Iolani foul just outside the 18-yard box gave HPA a restart a few yards from the end line. Naibryf played a ball short to Schneider, who redirected the ball with his right foot just inside the left post.
"In the corner flag, we drew a foul and then (Naibryf) and I we kind of have this little cool set piece going and he hit a near-post ball and it just worked out. It was a wonderful ball so I'm just glad he hit it," said Schneider, a junior forward.
Braithwaite said the play went through numerous repetitions of that very play in their state tournament preparations.
"We actually spend a lot of time working on set pieces, trying to make ourselves as dangerous as possible, and that one was one that we actually worked on this week so it felt real good," Braithwaite said.
HPA took a 1-0 lead into halftime and extended it to 2-0 in the 60th minute on Conor Hunt's goal off an assist from Tage Boyette.
Boyette, a junior midfielder, gathered a deflection and served a ball to Hunt, who was just outside the six-yard box. Hunt, a sophomore forward, hit a right-footed one-timer into the right side of the goal before colliding with an Iolani defender and goalkeeper Kaisen Nakagawa.
"What a big touch by Tage to get himself in position for that beautiful cross. That was just a heck of a read on his part and a beautiful ball," Braithwaite said.
Iolani's lone goal was scored by Alexander Liu on a breakaway in the 78th minute.
HPA posted nine shots on goal — six of them coming after halftime — and Iolani registered four shots on goal in each half.
Stomer Horton made eight saves in goal for Ka Makani and Nakagawa had six saves for the Raiders.
Thursday's result was a testament to how far Braithwaite's squad has come in two months' time.
"We're much more organized defensively now," Braithwaite said. "We're finally starting to get organized defensively in the midfield and we've got an identity of playing really solid, organized D, and then being able to counter through players' feet, and so I think we had no idea what we were doing six weeks ago and I think we really know who we are now."
After winning the past two Division II state crowns, HPA moved up to D1 this season. Schneider said the team still feels the need to prove itself despite its unbeaten record.
"Oh, for sure. We come into this D1 league and everyone is kind of looking at us like, ‘Hey, do they belong?' and that's our mission, to show that Big Island soccer has improved and us as a team and us as a school deserve to be at the Division I level," Schneider said.
The pair were honored last month as ScoringLive's Distinguished Athlete Award winners.
OIA coaches, athletic trainers, officials and athletic directors were honored last Friday.
It did not take long for baseball to find its way back into the life of Tommy Perkins.
The Iolani catcher, Baldwin pitcher was tops on the diamond in Division I.