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Prep Football Preview Special
Prep Football Preview
Game of the Week
ScoringLive staffJanuary 28, 2020, 11:20pm
Tue, Jan 28, 2020 @ Kaiser
Kalani got two huge stops from backup keeper Cory Takiguchi in the sudden death shootout to lift the Falcons to a 4-2 decision over West second seed and third ranked Mililani in the first quarterfinal of the night at Kaiser High School Stadium.
The win assured the East third seed Falcons a spot in the upcoming Division I state tournament and also helped avenge a 3-2 loss suffered at the hands of the Trojans in last year's OIA Division I semifinals.
"This season we unfortunately came in third which (meant) we couldn't get the bye (as we did) from previous years. But I knew and my team knew we could win against Mililani," said Kalani forward Rei Naiki.
Naiki's goal in the waning minutes of the first half equalized the score heading into the break.
"We just worked on our set pieces for the last week and that's what we only focused on because we had size," explained Naiki. "We scored off the set piece and we just crashed which coach wanted to happen. I'm just relieved that I scored off that goal."
Mililani struck first with Will Simpson getting the honors, but a penalty kick chance later in the half glanced off the post, and that would loom rather large.
For the balance of the second half and both overtime periods, both teams had their chances to take the lead, but ultimately neither capitalized and after 100 minutes of soccer the game would be decided in a shootout.
Kalani started off the shootout, with Ethan Senter's shot ricocheting off the left post to open the door for Mililani.
That set the stage for Takiguchi.
Jvon Cunningham took his approach and placed it near the far post, but the shot was smothered by a diving Takiguchi to keep the slate clean heading into the second round.
"I don't know. I just kind of dove for it," said a speechless Takiguchi of the first stop.
"The whole team was shaking. Everyone was cheering on," said Naiki. "It was just that moment that God saved us all."
The Falcons and Trojans traded successful shootout attempts in the next two rounds, and Kalani's Brandon Lee tucked in a shot into the near post to make the count 3-2.
Closing out the fourth round of the shootout was Korbin Nakai, who opted to place his shot on the same side as Cunningham did.
The shot seemed to lose a bit of pace on the initial bounce on the turf, giving just enough time for a diving Takiguchi to get to the spot, and he deflected the ball harmlessly away.
"I knew my goalie would save (some shots) because he was one of our best keepers last year and he had some trouble but came back," Naiki said. "Just had to trust him."
That set up the potential game winning kick from the Falcons' final kicker in the shootout, Kevin Tabuchi. His shot snuck just past the diving keeper and the celebration was on.
"We're just so happy. My whole team is so happy," exclaimed Takiguchi when asked about the win. "I don't know. We just want to win states."
The next hurdle to that goal of a state title win for the Falcons will be an OIA Division I semifinal tilt with Kaiser, a 3-0 winner over Moanalua in the second match of the night at Kaiser.
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