HHSAA Girls Soccer
Na Alii blank Chargers, will try for first state championship


  



Fri, Feb 7, 2020 @ Waipio


Final 1st 2nd OT 2OT PK Tot
Kekaulike (11-1-1) 0 2 - - - 2
Pearl City (12-4-2) 0 0 - - - 0
L. Aruda (65’ )   M. Dougherty (73’)

WAIPAHU — One win away.

Kekaulike can become just the second team from a neighbor island to win it all when it takes to the pitch of the main stadium at the Waipio Peninsula Soccer Complex Saturday night in the title game of The Queen's Medical Center/HHSAA Division I Girls State Soccer Championships.

Teani Arakawa assisted on a pair of second-half goals Friday night to help the Maui Interscholastic League champions and No. 8 team in the ScoringLive/Hawaiian Electric Power Rankings to a 2-0 semifinal win over No. 7 Pearl City.

"I'll reflect the feelings of the ladies: it feels great," Kekaulike coach Gundi Dancil said. "The ladies worked for it really hard during the season. We started off with a different look from what we brought to states today and we're very proud of the ladies."

Na Alii (11-0-1), the third seed in the tournament, recorded their second win over an perennial contender from Oahu in as many days; they were coming off of a 1-0 upset of No. 2 Punahou in Thursday's quarterfinal round.

The unseeded Chargers (12-4-1), who finished fifth in the Oahu Interscholastic Association tournament, were denied their second trip to the state finals in thee years (lost to Iolani in 2018 state championship game).

After a scoreless first half, Kekaulike drew first blood on Leiala Aruda's goal in the 65th minute. The play began in the defensive third, when Zoe Asue ran down an errant Pearl City pass. Asue played a direct pass up top that was misplayed by a Charger defender and found the feet of Arakawa, who quickly sent the ball forward near the top of the 18-yard box. It took a bounce just as Aruda slipped past a defender, trapped the ball and got off a left-footed from about 10 yards out shot that got past the goalkeeper and into the back of the net.

"Leiala, honestly, she's my girl," Asue said of the freshman forward/midfielder. "On Leiala's goal I saw just pure heart going at it. She's not here for the trophy, she's here to play and have fun and just go and have fun."

In the 73rd minute, Arakawa found Madelyn Dougherty with a pass from the right flank. Dougherty gathered the pass that split a pair of Pearl City fullbacks and scored with a right-footed shot from the top of the 18 to double up Na Alii's lead.

"The second goal, same as the first one, I saw a gap open and I just slotted it right through and then she made her run and she took it and got her opportunity," Arakawa said, a junior midfielder.

It was Dougherty's seventh goal of the season.

"Teani, her passing skills are just terrific," Dancil said. "She just sees the player, sees the seam and Maddie's been a force for us as a new player."

Asue could only describe Arakawa's assist as "awesome.

"Teani is a really good player. I have to say, my main thing is just try to hit Teani when I have a (set) piece, or hit one of my midfielders, and because our top is strong we just clicked and just finished it with Maddie," Asue said.

Kekaulike registered seven shots on goal to three for Pearl City, which was shut out for the first time this year.

"Our defense held up and they're really good, strong at keeping it together, stepping to every ball and they just held our defense down," Arakawa said.

Goalkeeper Jo-Zayah Iriarte made five saves for the Chargers, who did not take a single corner kick; Na Alii had eight corners, five of them after halftime.

It was the seventh consecutive win for Kekaulike — all of them by shut out. It has allowed just two goals all season and has not been scored upon since a 1-1 tie against Kamehameha-Maui on Jan. 8.

Dancil credited his back line of Asue, Emma Ayresman, Zoe Bailey, Jaycie-Anne Valoroso and Sarah Fusato for anchoring the defense.

"Our defenders, they're really solid and our two goalies (Puameiti Farm and Kiarlynn Francisco-Pu), they've really been solid all year long, but our defense gives our midfielders and strikers up front a chance to really concentrate on what their job is," Dancil said.

Asue said it was imperative that Na Alii kept close tabs on Pearl City forward/midfielder Caylie Uyema, who entered the game as the state's second-leading scorer with 22 goals on the season.

"She played really good. She was one of our keys we had to shut down, but our defense, we've been working a lot, we definitely click a lot better because in the beginning of the year we had some challenges where we had to really learn how to play with each other, but other than that we stuck together, made it work and we bring each other up," Asue said.

Just as they have all season, Farm and Francisco-Pu split goalkeeper duties for Kekaulike. Farm, a freshman, started the match and registered two saves before she gave way to Francisco-Pu, a junior, who stopped the only Pearl City shot on goal after halftime.

Na Alii will be making their first appearance in the state final and will represent the first team neighbor island team since Baldwin in 2016 to reach the D1 title game.

The Bears lost to Pearl City in the championship game that year, but remain the only non-Oahu program to win the state crown when they did so in back-to-back years in 2000 and 2001.

"My first time being here in states was my sophomore year and from there I just saw us climbing the ladder, because my first year we didn't even make it out of the first round. The second year we made it out, but we didn't beat (Kamehameha) Kapalama and now this time we're just climbing that ladder and our girls are just making their way up," Asue said.

Kekaulike's opponent in Saturday's 7 p.m. title game will be top-ranked and top-seeded Kamehameha, which defeated Konawaena, 3-0, in the other semifinal Friday night.

The Warriors handed Na Alii a lopsided 6-0 loss in the semifinal round of last year's state tournament en route to winning their ninth overall championship.

"I'm looking forward to that game," Asue said. "They're a really good team to play, it's good competition, good show to put on and I'm looking forward to it."

Asue, one of just four seniors on a roster of 25 players, agreed with her coach's assessment that the team has made huge strides since it began the season.

"We definitely grew. I would have to say from the first start of our games, we weren't connecting — because we're a young team, we're a really young team — but after a while we became one," Asue said. "We play as one, we don't play as individuals, we play like a family."

Pearl City will play Konawaena for third place at 3 p.m. Saturday on field No. 8.



Reach Kalani Takase at [email protected].


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