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Prep Football Preview Special
Michael Lasquero | ScoringLiveJanuary 29, 2023, 1:19am
Sat, Jan 28, 2023 @ Punahou
MAKIKI — Raise the red banner.
Iolani clinched its first ILH Division I boys soccer title since 2017 by virtue of a 1-1 draw with Punahou Saturday afternoon at Alexander Field.
Noah Scherman's short header just before halftime helped the Raiders (6-1-3) finish with the best record over the Buffanblu (6-2-2) after league play.
"I've been training with these boys everyday and we're just glad to bring it home for Iolani, for everybody that came to watch, our families, our friends, each other and our coaches," said Scherman, who has notched a goal in three of the past four matches.
By winning the ILH championship, Iolani locked up the league's seeded berth and first round bye in the Motiv8 Foundation Boys Soccer Championships, which starts on Feb. 6.
Gregory Jackson scored his fourth goal of the season in the 76th minute to force the tie for Punahou, who will also be playing in the state tournament. Had the Raiders won Saturday's matchup outright, the Buffanblu would have to face Kamehameha (6-3-1) next week for the league's final state berth.
"We knew that Punahou needed to get that result from us today for them not to play next Wednesday," said interim Iolani co-head coach Travis Watanabe. "We knew that whatever they were going to throw, we had to counter against it. Just lucky enough that we had enough at the end to make sure we ended up in a tie today."
The game's first goal came as a result of a heads-up play by Scherman. Kaleb Abara's free kick to start the 40th minute hit the top of the crossbar before landing right in front of the goal for Scherman's soft touch.
"We've been telling Kaleb all year to make sure we put it on frame, make the goalie make saves because he has a great shot," Watanabe said. "Scherman was on the right spot at the right time, a lot of the times, so nothing new for him."
Scherman said Abara was hesitant to take the free kick at first.
"He wanted me to take it, but I told him that I wanted him to and that I would follow it up on the shot," he said. "I told him keep it up on the frame and luckily he hit the crossbar and it stayed in and I was able to get a head on it in a 50-50 challenge with their center defender (Aiden Guenther)."
It's also worth noting that Scherman shook off an injury after needing to be carted off the field midway through the first half.
"I was going for a shot, but by the time the ball could reach my foot, their center defender ran through it. I ended up kicking him right on the top of my shin. It hurt for 15 minutes and then I was able to get back in the game," Scherman said as he recalled the play where he got hurt.
The Raiders did give up a goal in the second half, but they minimized the damage as best as they could in what was a physical final 20 minutes. Numerous yellow cards were given and a fan was also asked to leave the premises by the center official.
Still, Iolani made the necessary defensive plays needed to win the ILH championship. Keeper Tanner Shum made an athletic punch out in the air in the 78th minute and the backline of center backs Michael Kosteki and Kekama Kane and outside backs Brett Nakao and Nathan Li held their own with a couple of key tackles.
"These guys worked hard," said Watanabe. "There's some ups, there's some downs, but at the end of the day, these guys did what they needed to do to get the job done today."
The Raiders won their first ILH Division I Boys Soccer title since 2017 on Saturday. Image courtesy of Travis Watanabe.
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