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Prep Football Preview Special
Kalani Takase | ScoringLiveFebruary 2, 2023, 9:29pm
Thu, Feb 2, 2023 @ Waipio
WAIPAHU — Three of the top four seeds in this week's Motiv8 Foundation/HHSAA Division I Girls Soccer State Championships are moving on to the final four.
Defending champion Kamehameha, the No. 1 seed in the field, will meet fourth-seeded Kamehameha-Maui in the nightcap of Friday's semifinal doubleheader at Pearl City's Edwin "Bino" Neves Stadium. The first semifinal will feature second-seeded Mililani and Punahou, the lone unseeded team remaining in the championship bracket, at 5 p.m.
All but one of Thursday's quarterfinals — which took place simultaneously on the outside fields at the Waipio Peninsula Soccer Complex — were decided in regulation. The only match to go into extra time was between Kamehameha, the No. 1 team in this week's ScoringLive Power Rankings, and unseeded Campbell, the third-place team out of the Oahu Interscholastic Association.
The Warriors (9-0-2) needed overtime to get by the Sabers (11-4-1), who focused their efforts on the defensive third of the pitch.
"This style, it's hard when a defense is so compact," Kamehameha coach Missy Moore said. "It's very hard to get around and have the discipline to play the simple soccer that you need to to get through, so we struggled with that a bit, but it was coming — it was just coming. We haven't had to play that style all season. All season long it's been like a track meet every other game we've been playing, so this was a little bit different."
Kamehameha dominated the possession and knocked on the proverbial door a few times — it saw two shots on goals in the second half ricochet off the crossbar — but also saw Campbell's backline and goalkeeper, Kelli Cannella, make a few spectacular plays to keep the match scoreless.
"That's what we do, we defend," Sabers coach James Curran said. "We defend, we hold, our goal is to have zero goals against us and no team really scored against us on the run of play — set pieces the majority of the time — very minimal goals this entire season, so I'm proud, really proud of our girls."
It was, as Curran alluded to, a set piece that was the difference Thursday.
A Campbell foul gave Kamehameha a free kick from about 35 yards out on the right flank. After a bit of back-and-forth between the Sabers' coaches and the center official about the spot of the ball prior to the restart, Sarah Naumu booted a service to the back post, where Marley Espiau was there to head it past Cannella and in for the golden goal.
"It was a great indirect kick and great follow-up on the backdoor," Moore said. "Couldn't ask for a better finish, to be honest with you."
Curran recalled that it was a "little bit of a scramble" in the lead-up to Naumu's free kick.
"Our girls started dropping into the box and typically we hold the 18 and I guess we kind of gave a little too much space for them behind, so if we left them in the box, maybe congested it, I don't know, but that's just the name of the game, you make a decision and play a certain way and they got a call right here, so yeah," he said.
Moore shared that the talk in the team huddle heading into the overtime period centered around maintaining composure.
"It's just one of those games where when the defense is gonna stay back, we need to find those channels and those pockets to play in and we struggled to do that at first, but I thought second half we did a much better job of finding those pockets, it's just finishing those opportunities that come — we need to do it, we just need to do it and we had a couple hit the crossbar, it was right there — it's just we needed to not get frustrated and that was main talk that we had going into the overtime, was not to get frustrated, to just keep plugging away, keep grinding it out like we have all season and it's gonna happen," Moore said.
The Warriors will play their sister school from the Valley Isle, Kamehameha-Maui, with a spot in Saturday night's state championship match on the line.
The fourth-ranked KS-Maui Warriors (10-1-3) handled No. 10 Moanalua to the tune of a 3-1 decision. It got on the board in the 17th minute, when Maile Kehano's corner kick was headed into the goal by Raeja Librando — much to the delight of assistant Cody Felipe.
"It's something that we've harped on them all season: if we can win the ball in the air then the better opportunities will come that way," Felipe said.
KS-Maui built upon its 1-0 halftime lead with second-half goals by Sienna Kamalani and Naia Kaulukukui in the 58th and 67th minutes, respectively.
It was the Warriors' first game of the state tournament, whereas Na Menehune posted a 1-0 win over Kapolei in Monday's play-in round.
"We definitely got the jitters out. The girls came out, they had to come out with fire and we had to rely on everyone. Everyone on the team was important for this match to get us into the semifinals," Felipe said.
Rylie Echavaria scored the lone goal for Moanalua in the 75th minute.
Na Menehune (12-2-1), the OIA runner-up, will play Campbell in a fifth-place semifinal 1 p.m. Friday at Field No. 5.
Third-ranked Mililani, the OIA champion, took care of business in its quarterfinal win over fifth-ranked Kekaulike by a score of 4-1.
Jaeda Edayan got the Trojans (13-0-1) on the board early with her goal in the third minute. Tavena Oliveira found the back of the net a minute before halftime and Kamalani Yamashita and Kailee Wilson scored nearly back-to-back goals around the 54-minute mark.
"I think we had a slower start. We had many opportunities and then we were fortunate to score relatively early and then another one before halftime, so the momentum was in our hands in that regard leading into halftime and then I think we just did what needed to be done in the second half," Mililani coach Darren Smith said.
Leiala Aruda accounted for the only Kekaulike goal in the 68th minute.
Na Alii (8-2-4), the runner-up to KS-Maui from the Maui Interscholastic League, will next play sixth-ranked Waiakea, the only seeded team that will be absent from Friday's semifinal round.
The third-seeded Warriors (10-1-3), were handed their first loss of the year by No. 2 Punahou, 5-2, in the last quarterfinal to conclude Thursday.
The match proved to be a tale of two halves as Waiakea took an early lead on a Charlie Silva goal in the fifth minute. Punahou then stormed back with a couple of Xevani Salanoa goals in the sixth and 10th minutes, but the champions from the Big Island Interscholastic Federation equalized with Kauionalani Mahi-Murray's goal in the 22nd minute.
After the intermission, however, the Buffanblu (9-1-2) pitched a shut out defensively and got the go-ahead goal by Ally Yoshimura in the 75th minute before Xehlia Salanoa tacked on an insurance goal in the 79th.
"We started off with really good energy," Buffanblu coach Shelley Izuno said. "Waiakea capitalized, scored first, we responded and it was a good back-and-forth game in the first half and then we figured ourselves out in the second half."
Punahou will be playing its third match in five days when it faces undefeated Mililani in the semifinal round for the second time in as many years Friday. The Buffanblu blanked the Trojans, 3-0, a year ago.
"It's a rematch of last year, so it should be a great game," Izuno said.
Smith is hopeful for a better result this time around.
"The girls are ready," he said. "I think we're pretty hungry, so we'll see how well we do the rest of the way."
The winners of Friday's semifinals will advance to the state championship match Saturday, 7 p.m. at the Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium.
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