Editor’s note: This story was modified to include Konawaena’s honorable mention selections.
Jake Schneider and the Hawaii Prep boys soccer team may have to share their state championship after battling to a scoreless tie before lightning put a halt to the match seven minutes into overtime, but one thing Schneider won’t have to share this season is the BIIF D-I Player of the Year Honor.
Schneider was the clear-cut favorite to take home the award after leading Hawaii Prep to its third consecutive title, while also becoming the only soccer team to claim championships in both D-I and D-II.
“This team had big goals and we showed we can compete at the Division I level,” Schneider said. “We left no doubt and I believe this cements Big Island soccer at the state level.”
For Schneider, winning the player of the year honor — which was chosen by league coaches, West Hawaii Today and Hawaii Tribune-Herald — was a great personal achievement, but one that was also earned by those around him.
“I could not have done it without the other players on the team, the coaches and my family,” Schneider said. “I truly believe I took a big jump in my playing ability this season. I also took on more of a leadership role and having the extra weight on my shoulders, I thrived with it. It keeps me sharper and makes me a better player.”
Schneider was the leading goal scorer among all D-I soccer players in the state this season with 19 goals.
“I don’t think he had a hat trick all season, so to lead the state in scoring, that is impressive,” said Ka Makani head coach Richard Braithwaite. “He scored in pretty much every game.”
But Schneider was more than just a goal scorer. He also led Hawaii Prep in assists, something the junior prided himself on.
“I tried to focus on getting two assists at the start of every game and then let the goals come naturally,” Schneider said. “Looking for my teammates early in games, it really helped me understand runs better. It also allowed me to develop trust with my teammates.”
For Braithwaite, Schneider’s unselfishness and hard work started in practice.
“It is not unusual to find Jake out on the soccer field working with someone early in the morning,” Braithwaite said. “He also came to every practice full of energy and ready to work. If another player got partnered up with him in a drill, that player knew they were going to have to focus and go full speed.”
All the effort put into practice paid off during Hawaii Prep’s state tournament run. In the semifinal game against King Kekaulike, Schneider managed a clutch goal 43 seconds into stoppage time to lead Ka Makani to a 3-2 victory and a championship game berth.
The goal itself was nearly mythical, coming off such a tough angle, it left many people on the field, in the stands, and watching on TV wondering just how he was able to get the ball into the net.
“To be honest, from where I was on the field, the shot looked difficult but very doable,” Schneider said. “I have watched the play a few times on TV and it definitely looks harder than it really was.”
After scoring the goal, Schneider did what he always does after goals, or pretty much during any minor break during the game, he looks into the stands to entertain the crowd.
“I just enjoy myself when I am out there. It is the happiest place I can be,” Schneider said. “I am always amazed that people spend their time coming out to see us, so I want to make sure they are having just as much fun as I am.”
With a third championship now in tow, Schneider is definitely having fun on the field. He also now has very important bragging rights over his older brother, Austin, who was on both D-II championship squads.
“Trust me, our house is very competitive and I have definitely mentioned this to him a few times already,” Jake Schneider said with a laugh. “But as much as I loved winning this without him this season, I wish I could have won it with him more.”
For Jake Schneider, his brother is a source of inspiration, and perhaps he will share his award after all.
“Austin is one of my biggest role models,” Jake Schneider said. “He is part of this honor because he has helped me so much along the way.”
Boys Division I
F: Jake Schneider, HPA
F: Toby Balaam, HPA
F: Riley Patterson, Hilo
F: Riley Tamanaha, Waiakea
M: John Grover, Waiakea
M: Teddy Rubenstein, Kealakehe
M: Jack Mann, Hilo
M: Ilan Naibryf, HPA
D: Kai Bielger, Waiakea
D: Sihkea Jim, HPA
D: Kento Komatsu, HPA
D: Jevon Flippin, HPA
GK: Stormer Horton, HPA
Player of the year
Jake Schneider, HPA
Coach of the year
Richard Braithewaite, HPA
HPA: Chris Whitfield, Stormer Horton, Riley Hiatt, Tage Boyette
Waiakea: Isaac Sumera, Colby Kerr, Gabriel Frazier-Jenkins, Kolton Xie, Craig Okahara-Olsen
Hilo: Jyson Breitbarth, Joshua Rosario, Caleb Cabison, Logan Mizuba, Urban Halpern
Kealakehe: Brayan Munoz, Zane Virgin, Nathan Weir, Cyrus Sobrepena, Kean Schutte, Zachary Aderinto, Bryson Guanio
Keaau: Rico Handy, Daniel Vierra, Christian Mamone, Zane Van-Guilder
Konawaena: Joseph Roback, Travis Ichishita, Logan Ichishita, Jovani D’Angelo, Alan Cancino, Kekama Makanui