Hawaiian Electric Game of the Week
Aiea captures first OIA championship since 2005


  



Sat, Jan 19, 2019 @ Kaiser


Final 1st 2nd OT 2OT PK Tot
Pearl City (11-4-1) 0 0 - - - 0
Aiea (12-4-0) 1 0 - - - 1
N. Olanda, AIEA, S. Boyd, AIEA (0), A. Ono, AIEA (0)

HAWAII KAI — A regular-season ending loss might have been the key kick for the Aiea girls' soccer team all year.

No. 7 Na Alii made a ninth-minute goal by Nicole Olanda to beat No. 4 Pearl City, 1-0, Saturday night to give Aiea the Oahu Interscholastic Association championship at Kaiser stadium. It was Aiea's first Division I league crown and third overall. It was the school's first league title since 2005.

Na Alii (12-2) reeled off eight consecutive wins after a season-opening loss to defending champion Mililani. They entered the final game of the regular season leading the OIA West, but lost to fourth-seeded Waipahu, 1-0, and dropped to third place, losing the first-round bye for the OIA tournament. Devastating as it was at the time, the loss might have been the kick in the butt Na Alii needed.

"It was a big awakening," Olanda said. "Waipahu put us in our place. It was a rude awakening because we were coming into playoffs. We thought we had first place and it shocked us when we got third. We were planning on first-round bye, but we had to play that Monday and we got our stuff together."

Indeed Aiea did.

Na Alii ousted East sixth-seed Kahuku in the first round; beat East second seed Kaiser in the quarterfinals; and knocked off West top seed Mililani in the semifinals. They had allowed only one goal in the four OIA tournament games.

Granted, the Chargers (10-2-1) were without the state Division I's leading scorer, Sunshine Fontes, who sustained an apparent knee injury in Thursday's semifinals. But Aiea's defense still thwarted a Chargers team that scored 59 goals, second best in the West.

"The key to our team is the back line," Aiea coach Ben Villaflor said. "Phoenix (Dawn Miranda) and Bri (Briana Yamada). With that foundation there, that's what allows everyone else to do their job. Those two really hold this team up. From there, we feed off of that. Midfield can do their jobs. Once the midfield can find Nicole (Olanda), Savannah (Breeze Miranda) and Shey (Sheyliene Patolo), then everything just falls into place."

However, with about 13 minutes left in the contest, Yamada went down with an apparent knee injury. After a delay, she got up and entered a motorized cart under her own power and was transported off the field. She was on crutches after the game. There was no contact made against Yamada.

"The no-contact injuries scare me the most," Villaflor said.

Also making up Aiea's back line were Kaira Ringen and Lexis Canyete-Asato.

Nicole Olanda (center) scored the game-winner for Aiea just nine minutes into the match. Leighland Tagawa | SL    Purchase image

Aiea got on the road early when Olanda took a pass from Sydney Boyd and scored from inside the penalty area.

"Sydney Boyd passed me a beautiful ball," Olanda said. "I originally was going to take it to my right, but the defender was coming on hard, I took it back to my left and on the turf, the ball was moving a little bit, but I had to get that shot off. I kicked it right over the goalie because she was a little off of the line and it went in."

The versatile Olanda has strong bloodlines in the sport. Her aunts — Merf and Mouse Olanda — were all-star players for Mililani in the late 1980s. "They gave me and my sisters a lot of guidance," Nicole said.

The Chargers could not convert on two second-half corner kicks. Caylie Oyama launched a direct free kick from 35 yards down the middle, but it was caught by Aiea keeper Shayla Sugai.

The Chargers played as well as they could without their leading scorer in Fontes, a member of USA soccer's under-17 team. But coach Frank Baumholtz was impressed with his team's performance. He started four freshmen (Jasmine Herodies, Alyssa Bautista, Lainey Honma and Jizelle Ucol; and a sophomore (Nicole Miyazono). Another sophomore (Soraya Santos) saw considerable action too.

"Today, we played great," Baumholtz said. "We played the whole preseason without (Fontes) pretty much. But to make that adjustment from Thursday (when Fontes got injured) to Saturday, that's a little hard to do. But the kids adjusted really well. Proud of the young ones. The young ones played super."

Next stop is the state tournament, which begins Jan. 28 with the regional opening round and resumes Jan. 31 – Feb 2. As league champion, Na Alii will draw a first-round bye. Pearl City, Mililani, Moanalua, Campbell and Kapolei are the other OIA teams in the D1 state tournament.



Reach Stacy Kaneshiro at [email protected].


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