HHSAA Boys Soccer
Iolani gets by Waiakea in OT, will face Kalani in D1 semifinal; Mililani to play Hilo next


Thu, Feb 9, 2023 @ Waipio

Final/OT 1st 2nd OT 2OT PK Tot
Waiakea (12-4-0) 1 1 0 - - 2
Iolani (9-1-3) 1 1 1 - - 3
K. Abara (20', 85')   T. Atwal (53')   J. Butkiewicz (48')   A. Nelson (33')

WAIPAHU — A new champion will be crowned in Division I boys soccer Saturday night. 

The quarterfinal round of the Motiv8 Foundation/HHSAA State Championships saw three of the four seeded teams move on to Friday's semifinal round at Waipahu's Masa Yonamine Athletic Complex. 

No. 1 seed Mililani, which dethroned defending champion Kekaulike in one of four quarterfinals Thursday afternoon at Waipio Peninsula Soccer Complex, will take on fourth-seeded Hilo in the late semifinal at 7 p.m. The early semi will feature unseeded Kalani against No. 2 seed Iolani at 5 p.m. 

The Interscholastic League of Honolulu-champion Raiders (7-1-3) needed overtime to get by Big Island Interscholastic Federation runner-up, Waiakea, by a score of 3-2. 

Senior midfielder Kaleb Abara scored twice in the win for Iolani. His first goal came on a free kick in the 20th minute, while his penalty kick in the 85th minute served as the winning score. 

"He's been solid for us all year — with our free kicks, with our PKs — he's just been solid," Iolani co-coach Travis Watanabe said of Abara. 

Abara's first goal opened the scoring and put his team ahead until Waiakea equalized with an Aziah Nelson goal in the 33rd minute. The score held until John Butkiewicz put away a chance in the 48th minute to put the Raiders back in front, but not for long, as the Warriors evened the score with a Tevin Atwal goal in the 53rd minute. 

"We knew it was gonna be a battle. They have guys on that team that are very, very dangerous and they hurt us today," Watanabe said. "Even though the game plan was to try to stop them here and there, but just lucky we were able to pull it out today."

After the teams were tied at 2 to end regulation, an Iolani player was taken down in the 18-yard box about midway through the overtime period. The Waiakea defender was called for a foul on the slide tackle, which sent Abara to the penalty spot. Abara placed his shot into the bottom left corner for the golden goal. 

"I mean, at the end of the day I saw the guy come from behind, but the refs had a better angle, so luckily he was able to call that," said of the foul against the Warriors (12-3), who were coming off of a 3-2 win in double-overtime against Kaiser in Monday's first round. 

While the Raiders will move on in the tournament, their ILH rival, Punahou, was bounced from the bracket Thursday with a 1-0 loss to Hilo. 

The lone goal was scored by the Vikings' Michael DeCoito III in the 19th minute. 

"Never could imagine something like this occurring, especially from a small town in Hilo playing a very large powerhouse in all sports like Punahou, so at a loss for words," Hilo coach George Ichimaru said of the win over the fourth-ranked Buffanblu. 

Ichimaru said that much of the team's time in training as of late has been focused on the defensive third of the pitch. 

"Being willing to do the dirty work and really work hard and really dig deep and have grit," Ichimaru said, "because that's what wins. I told them if you keep the score at zero or one, you're always in the game, no matter who you're against." 

Despite a number of chances for the Buffanblu (7-3-2) in the attacking third, the Vikings (10-0-2) ultimately turned in a clean sheet for their seventh shutout of the season. 

"I told the boys from the beginning, it doesn't matter who you play against. If you have the heart and you're determined, you can do it and so finally I talked about the losses we had, especially in the regular season, especially last season in the (state) championship and I said, ‘How bad do you really want it? Today is your biggest challenge. If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best' and, you know, even though it was a quarterfinal match, it felt like a championship," Ichimaru said. 

While the Vikings made a run to the championship game a year ago, they were fueled by an underdog mentality against Punahou, which has won 22 of the 49 top-tier state championships since the tournament's inception in 1974. 

"We embraced it and we were just up to the challenge. Any team can be beaten on any given day, just who shows up on February ninth," Ichimaru said. "Hilo worked extremely hard for this. Mad respect to Punahou. They probably had a lot more of the chances, but we held it down, we stuck together as a team and pulled it through."

Hilo will look to post a second upset in as many days when it faces Mililani, the 18-time Oahu Interscholastic Association winner and No. 1 team in this week's ScoringLive Power Rankings. 

The Trojans (14-0) got goals from Jayden Sotelo in the 47th minute and Kai Martin in the 80th to knock Na Alii (9-4) to the consolation bracket. 

Mililani is seeking its first return to the title game since 2020, when it defeated Waiakea in the semifinals. 

Kalani will be making its third consecutive appearance in the final four. The Falcons (13-1-1), whose only loss was to the Trojans in the OIA title game, pulled away from No. 3-seed Baldwin, the Maui Interscholastic League champion, 3-0. 

All three goals came before halftime. Shane Fuse headed in a corner kick in the sixth minute and Chase Kaetsu and Ethan Senter followed with goals in the 10th and 22nd minutes, respectively. 

The Bears (9-2) were shut out for just the second time all season. 

The game was delayed for more than half an hour late in the first half due to an injury to a Kalani player that required him to be taken by ambulance from Waipio Peninsula Soccer Complex to a local hospital. 

The Falcons have not played for a state championship since 2015. They fell, 1-0, to Mililani that year. 

Iolani's last title-game appearance was in 2019, when it lost to Punahou in overtime, 1-0. 

Reach Kalani Takase at [email protected].

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