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Game of the Week
Kalani Takase | ScoringLiveJanuary 4, 2019, 8:04pm
Fri, Jan 4, 2019 @ Kamehameha
KAPALAMA HEIGHTS — No. 2 Iolani avenged its lone loss this season with a second-half goal Friday en route to a 1-0 win over top-ranked Kamehameha at Kunuiakea Stadium.
The lone goal was scored by Kelsey Takahashi in the 55th minute, off a corner kick by Taylor Arakaki.
The win, their sixth straight since a 1-0 loss to the Warriors (6-1) in the season opener, lifted the Raiders (6-1) into a tie for first place in the Interscholastic League of Honolulu Division I girls soccer standings. Both teams have accumulated 18 points with three games remaining in the first round.
"It was really big," said Takahashi, a junior midfielder. "Since our first game, when we lost to them, 1-0, we've been working really hard over the break and just preparing for this game and the next round, so it was a really big accomplishment to come back and win today."
Since the loss to Kamehameha on Dec. 5, Iolani has outscored its opponents by a margin of 24 to 1. Friday's victory marked its fourth consecutive shut out.
"We really focused on teamwork, going back to our possession game and a lot of chemistry, working together and building that chemistry within our team," Takahashi said.
The Raiders were forced to do some experimenting with their chemistry with three prominent starters out with injuries Friday.
"I think it's huge, especially with some of our starters that we were missing — Kelsey Wong, (Taylor Venenciano) and Lexie (Masca) — so we had to move some people around and for some of them, it was the first game playing in that position," Iolani coach Kristin Masunaga said.
The injuries necessitated moving junior Kaitlyn "KK" Uemoto from her usual forward position, back to a holding-mid role, which was vacated when freshman Tahlia Alexio was summoned to fill Wong's center-back position. Wong earned first team All-Hawaii honors as a sophomore in 2018.
"I think that they did great. Tahlia, she usually doesn't play in the center-back position, but today did and she played really well," Takahashi said.
Masunaga was also impressed by Alexio's composure against a Kamehameha team that had amassed 26 goals in its first six games.
"I think she did an excellent job. As a freshman, she'd played Punahou and Kamehameha once (already), but it's different being that last defender with the pressure, but she did a really good job," Masunaga said.
While the Raiders were without a trio of starters, they got back junior forward Sasha Asselbaye, who was making her season debut coming off a foot injury. Takahashi said Asselbaye's presence — she stands 6 feet tall — drew a lot of attention from the Warriors' backline.
"I think so. She's a really big target in our forward line and I think that her coming back today helped a lot," Takahashi said.
The teams played to a scoreless first half. Iolani drew its first corner kick of the game about 13 minutes into the second half. Arakaki delivered the kick just outside the 6-yard box, toward the far post. The ball was deflected around several times in the box before the Raiders eventually drew another corner — again from the left side.
Arakaki, a second team All-Hawaii defender in 2018, served the corner near the same spot, where it eventually found Takahashi, who put it away with her right foot for her second goal of the season.
"(Arakaki) served the ball in and then we were kind of all jumbled around, trying to fight for the ball and the ball just dropped at my feet and I shot it," Takahashi said.
Several Kamehameha players disputed that the ball had fully crossed over the end line, but after a brief moment of consultation between the center official and the assistant referee the goal was confirmed.
It was the first goal allowed by the Warriors this season.
"I saw the ball just bouncing around and Kelsey just hit it and got a good strike on it and got it in," Masunaga said.
Just minutes after the goal, the Warriors threatened on the other end of the pitch. A free kick from distance was saved by a leaping Musuai Isaia in goal for Iolani, but the center official deemed that Isaia took more than the maximum six seconds allowed to get off the ensuing punt. Consequently, Kamehameha was given an indirect kick just outside the 18-yard box.
The Warriors huddled three players around the ball with D'awncey Jones lined up about seven yards back. Caili Cain touched the ball back to Jones on the restart, but Jones' shot was low and missed left of the goal.
"I think there was definitely a lot of concern because we weren't really sure what the call was or what was going on, so we it took a lot of communication within the team and all the players in the back," said Takahashi, a first team All-Hawaii selection last year.
Kamehameha mustered one final threat in the closing minutes. Cain, the ILH's leading scorer with nine goals this season, tried to run down a long pass along the right flank, but Arakaki made a key defensive play by denying her access to the ball.
Isaia made three saves in goal, while Chaylea Tome posted two stops and Caela Kaio one for the Warriors.
Both teams next play Monday at 4 p.m. Iolani will host Punahou (3-2-1) at Kozuki Stadium, while Kamehameha will take on Mid-Pacific (3-2-1) at Kunuiakea Stadium.
Kamehameha picked up a key ILH D1 win while handing Iolani its third straight loss.
Saint Francis is at No. 6, while Mid-Pacific and Maui rounds out the rankings.
Buffanblu have won six straight after starting season 0-2.
Warriors are currently undefeated in BIIF regular season play.
Ayzek Silva threw 5 2/3 strong innings while striking out a season-high 10 batters.
Liliana Thomas’ walk off single helped the Spartans create a four-way tie for first.