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Prep Football Preview Special
Prep Football Preview
Game of the Week
Leighland Tagawa | ScoringLiveFebruary 16, 2020, 7:44am
Sat, Feb 15, 2020 @ Waipio
WAIPAHU — Hawaii Preparatory Academy dominated early to defeat the defending champions Kapaa, 2-0, at Waipio Soccer Stadium Saturday night to win the Queen's Medical Center Division II Boys Soccer state championship.
It was Ka Makani's fourth overall state crown, which have all come within a five year time period. HPA won D2 titles in 2016 and 2017 and was co-champions with Baldwin when it moved up to Division I in 2018.
Knowing that his team would be playing a tough Kapaa Warriors team, HPA coach James Berry got a head start in scouting last year's D2 champions.
"We watched Kapaa play yesterday," Berry said. "We knew that we were going to have to make a couple of small adjustments and try to spread them as wide as possible. They had a couple of key players that we had to watch too."
The game started off fast for HPA, taking a 1-0 lead only nine minutes into the contest. Senior captain Conor Hunt gathered the ball on the right touch line. He dribbled passed the right fullback and hit a curling shot out of the reach of Kapaa keeper Dreyden Iwamoto.
"It felt amazing really," said Hunt, who had a powerful shot saved just before his goal. "But I can't do anything by myself without this team. They set me up really nice."
Hunt's goal against the champions from the garden isle was extra special for him.
"Kapaa is from Kauai and I'm from Kauai so I grew up with some of these kids and it was good to see familiar faces," Hunt reminisced. "I was just more motivated to play and just got one off early."
HPA would dominate the first half stats with a total of six shots, three corner kicks, and forcing Iwamoto into five saves.
"Some of our passing accuracy was a little bit off so we were giving them opportunities to win the ball and come back at us," said Kapaa coach Kevin Cram. "That kept us on our heels defensively. Offensively, we weren't connecting with our front line as much as we'd like to.The game plan was to work it up a little bit slower but we kind of panicked. Especially after that first goal, we tried to push everyone up quickly."
Although they were mostly outplayed in the first half, Kapaa did manage to regroup on defense. Their best scoring opportunity came in the 25th minute. After an HPA handball outside the penalty box, defender Keanu Brown blasted the free kick off the cross bar.
After intermission, Kapaa came out in the second half with better possession and started to move the ball into the Ka Makani side of the field.
However, HPA scored off of a counter attack in the 47th minute. Noah Balaam's through ball found forward Daniel Jose Vidal Gayoso on the run and he hit a cheeky chip shot over Iwamoto to give HPA a 2-0 advantage. Vidal Gayoso finished as the leading goal scorer this season for HPA with 13 goals.
Besides the two goals allowed, the Warrior defense and Iwamoto held strong against the potent HPA attackers. Even though they didn't have the likes of former all Hawaii player Kiran Costa on the back line, guys like Brown and Duke Bush stepped up to help bring the Warriors back to the title game this year.
"We've had a pretty good defensive group back there," Cram said. "A couple of injuries made us have to make some changes so it wasn't as solid as it could've been. But they did a really good job. We had one of our player get beat for the goal in the first half, but after that he kept it locked down."
With this being coach Berry's last game as the Ka Makani head coach, he wanted to thank his seniors for helping to lead this year's team.
The Queen’s Medical Center/HHSAA Boys Soccer State Championships(As selected by the HHSAA and the media)
Division II All-Tournament TeamKeanu Brown, KapaaCuinn Cariaga, KS-HawaiiNoah Condon, Hawaii PrepWill Faris, SeaburyLaa Gonsalves, KapaaGrayson Phillips, Hawaii PrepKai Merrill, SeaburyDanny Jose Vidal, Hawaii PrepLogan Waltjen, KS-HawaiiGoalkeeper: Zane Willman, Hawaii PrepMost Outstanding: Conor Hunt, Hawaii Prep
"Our seniors were definitely paramount for the lead up to this tournament and the three games we played," Berry said. "With a school of 375 kids, you never know. But players like Grayson (Phillips) coming in, he's dad is the new head of school. Daniel (Vidal Gayoso) comes in from Spain to come and get a classic year of school at HPA. These guys just roll in or pop up out of the sky for us sometimes and we're grateful for what they've done for this program. With the big numbers that graduated last season, I was asked several times about that but I say that every year we have a new team, it's not the same team. These boys had a lot to prove this year, had a lot of naysayers, and here we are tonight 2-0 state champs."
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