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Prep Football Preview
Game of the Week
Kalani Takase | ScoringLiveFebruary 16, 2018, 10:18pm
Fri, Feb 16, 2018 @ Waipio
WAIPAHU — Coming into the weekend, Hawaii Prep had not trailed in a game this season. It did so twice Friday night and still came out on top by the final whistle.
Jake Schneider scored a pair of goals to help No. 6 Hawaii Prep rally past No. 8 King Kekaulike, 3-2, in the semifinals of The Queen's Medical Center/HHSAA Division I Boys Soccer State Championships at Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium.
The third-seeded Ka Makani, champions of the Big Island Interscholastic Federation, twice overcame one-goal deficits to improve to 14-0 on the season and now have their eyes set on their D1 state crown after winning back-to-back D2 titles the last two years.
Hawaii Prep will meet No. 10 Baldwin, which defeated two-time defending champion Punahou in the other semifinal, at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Waipio main stadium.
Unseeded King Kekaulike, the Maui Interscholastic League runner-up, saw its four-game win streak snapped and fell to 9-1-3.
"It's just this chip on our shoulders we seem to have coming up from Division II and I feel like whenever we go down, we've got that little bit to prove and we have the spark in us that just continues to flame up and it goes our way, so I'm proud of our team," said Schneider, a junior forward.
The game was a back-and-forth affair for much of the night.
King Kekaulike took its first lead in the 23rd minute on an own goal. Jericho Lara's corner kick was headed for teammate Zakariya Woolley in the six-yard box, but it was deflected by a Ka Makani defender into the goal.
However, Ka Makani pulled even when Schneider drew and converted a penalty kick just before halftime.
Schneider's initial shot was deflected by Na Alii goalkeeper Cody McDonald, but he put the rebound away in the right side of the net. Shortly thereafter, the first half came to a close.
"Oh my gosh, that was huge," HPA coach Rich Braithwaite said. "(King Kekaulike) had all the momentum, they were pounding us and then to get that goal going right into half to make us believe again was big."
Ka Makani found themselves behind once again just four minutes into the second half, when Cade Taniguchi scored his second goal in as many days to give Na Alii a 2-1 lead. But HPA equalized in the 55th minute on a goal that was credited to Conor Hunt — only after a short discussion between the center official and assistant referee.
King Kekaulike co-coach Tye Perdido gave his account of the play.
"Our keeper comes out on a 50-50 ball, gains possession by catching it and then two of their players run into the keeper, he drops it and then it just rolls into the goal," Perdido sid. "I mean, he's calling it on their side if their keeper runs into our guys, but he doesn't call it both ways."
Braithwaite said Hunt's goal was key to his team finding its pace of play.
"We actually talk about it; We train about how do you overcome a one-goal deficit, how you change the way we play, and that was a fast-paced game and the whole time we were trying to slow down the tempo and try to play us, and that's hard to do when you're down a goal, so coming back both times allowed us to finally to start to play a little bit and that was huge for us," Braithwaite said.
Late in the match, Schneider netted his second goal of the night for the game winner.
"My boy, Ilan Naibryf, sent an amazing ball — I can't do it without him and the team just sending me great balls all day — but that ball just flows and I was patient and you've just got to stay composed in the moment and strike it as best as you can and it hit the post and it went in," Schneider said.
It was Schneider's team-leading 10th and 11th goals of the season and third in two state tournament games.
"He's just an unbelievable player," Braithwaite said. "He made that run, timed it so well, the ball was through and then what an incredible finish: no angle, into the back post. He's really been working and has come so far in the last year from an outstanding sophomore to a game-changing junior."
HPA will try to become the first school to win consecutive state championships in different divisions.
"Our goals all season have been one day, one game at a time, with the secret ultimate goal of being here," Braithwaite said. "I try not to ever say it — today we're talking about this moment right now — and now we get to say, ‘all right, here we are: the big goal.' It's what we've been working for all year."
Kickoff between Ka Makani and Baldwin is scheduled for approximately 7 p.m. and will follow the D2 final between Kapaa and Kamehameha-Hawaii at 5 p.m. Both matches will be in the main stadium.
King Kekaulike will play Punahou for third place at 3 p.m. on Field No. 10.
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