By MATT GERHART
By MATT GERHART
Tribune-Herald sports writer
KEAAU — Resurgent Kamehameha seemingly had Christian Liberty right where it wanted it.
The Warriors have specialized this season in neutralizing upper-echelon teams with draws, and Kamehameha found itself in a familiar spot Tuesday — tied during the second half against a Division II elite.
The Canefire feature some specialties, too, however. One of them is Nakaiya Kerr, who specializes in fast rushes, blistering shots and racking up goals in bunches. The senior striker notched the go-ahead goal, his second of the match, and Christian Liberty beat the Warriors 3-1 in a Big Island Interscholastic Federation boys match on its field.
“It seemed like they were trying to make sure I didn’t turn with the ball, just trying to stay in front of me,” Kerr said. “I just try to go back and forth. I can use both of my feet to try and make an opening.”
Kerr’s second goal was vintage Christian Liberty (4-1). Kerr took a pass from his brother Sequoya Kerr from about 12 yards out and rifled a shot that deflected off Warriors goalkeeper Sean Miday’s hand.
Any thoughts of a tie disappeared when Sequoya Kerr added another assist, his specialty so far this season, when Louis Moylan headed in his corner kick. Moylan played on the backline during the first half, but the senior moved up to help spark the offense during the final 40 minutes.
“They kept rotating (defenders) on Nakaiya, but he’s so explosive and can go right or left and is playing disciplined,” Canefire coach Troy Rimel said. “We started Louis on the back to shake things up. He’s so mature with communication when he’s in the back.”
But when the Kerr brothers are teamed together with Moylan on the attack, they form a dangerous trio. The schedule has been light a times, but Nakaiya Kerr has tallied 14 goals this season, Moylan has 10, and Sequoya Kerr has chipped in with 11 assists.
“We’ve been playing together for years,” Nakaiya Kerr said. “We’re just continuing to build upon that chemistry.”
He scored during the opening rush of the match, but John DeRamos netted the equalizer for Kamehameha (2-2-4) in the 16th minute by redirecting Colton Hill’s centering cross.
The Canefire carried play during both halves, holding a 20-10 advantage in shots. Ben Houston also was credited with an assist.
Christian Liberty, the Division II runner-up in 2013, opened the season with three TKO victories before the Christmas break, and it hadn’t been tested until last Saturday during an eye-opening 3-1 loss at Honokaa in which Rimel said the Dragons played with dazzling intensity.
“First half (against Honokaa) we went in taking it for granted and didn’t really play as hard as we could,” Nakaiya Kerr said. “In the second half we stepped it up.
“(Kamehameha) is one of our rivals. We really wanted to win this game and show that we’re still in it.”
Kerr had a multitude of chances for his fourth hat trick of the season Tuesday, but three of his rockets glanced off the side of the net and another was high.
Miday made eight stops for the Warriors, while Kiyoshi Kaili made three saves for the Canefire.
Playing a much tougher schedule than Christian Liberty, Kamehameha went through its first six matches unbeaten — including ties against Honokaa, Hilo, Konawaena and Hawaii Prep — but the Warriors have lost their last two.
“I think the good start got to our heads a little,” coach Mario Patino said. “Today was a mental problem, and we weren’t able to recover from our mistakes.
“Nakaiya’s an excellent player, but if you’re organized behind him, he can’t do it by himself.”
Kealakehe 4, Hawaii Prep 2: The Waveriders (7-0) battled back from their first deficit of the season to remain undefeated in BIIF play.
“We felt it was just a matter of time before we would come back,” Kealakehe head coach Urs Leuenberger said. “We missed a lot of 100 percent chances early, but HPA is a competitior that makes you very uncomfortable.”
Senior Kama Hurwitz put Ka Makani (4-1-2) on the board early, but the Waveriders responded with goals from Scott Henderson and Marc Takahashi to go up before half. Ariel Lima scored two second half goals to pad the lead for Kealakehe.
Braden Kojima had a late second half goal for HPA.
HPA 4, Kealakehe 4: Kealakehe’s Kailii Smith and Mika Bettencourt scored late goals to complete a thrilling home comeback against Division II powerhouse HPA.
Bri Vallente scored twice, and Nanea Tavares, Gabbie Ewing also added goals for Ka Makani (5-0-1).
The Waveriders (3-2-2) battled back from a two-goal deficit twice. Lexi Cuaresma scored the first goal for Kealakehe, and Bettencourt followed with her first of two.
Kealakehe freshman Alysha Prados — playing in place of injured starting goalkeeper Sullivan Schuster — had an impressive performance.
Ka’u 9, Hawaii Academy of Arts & Science 0: Two goals apiece by David Pilette and Andrew Garcia in Pahala helped the Trojans (3-6) to a TKO victory.
Kupono Palakiko, Anthony Emmsley-Ah Yee, Carlos Uribe-Bounos, Thanchit Khofaklang and Raycin Salmo-Grace also found the back of the net against Na Naia (0-9).
Stephens Media Hawaii’s J.R. De Groote contributed to this report.