HHSAA boys soccer: Kamehameha captures first state title

RANDY DELA CRUZ photo Kamehameha goalkeeper Jameson Sato eyes a ball Saturday against Kapaa.

Kamehameha’s Jonathan DeMotta said he felt butterflies, but they hardly showed.

Nor did it appear as if he had been waiting to take this penalty kick for more than 24 hours. He nonchalantly approached the ball and with a flick of the foot it found a home in the right corner of the net.

“Ice,” coach Kevin Waltjen said. “All the cool in the world.”

Gold, too.

A few topsy-turvy moments later Saturday night the wait was over for the Warriors, who edged Kapaa 3-2 to claim their first HHSAA Division II boys soccer championship on DeMotta’s PK in stoppage time at Oahu’s Waipio Peninsula Soccer Complex.

“I was actually very nervous,” DeMotta said in an OC16 interview, “but my team, they were just cheering me on and taking me through it, and I put it in.

“It felt good to represent the Big Island and our school.”

The BIIF champion Warriors (14-1) ended the season on a 14-match winning streak after surviving one final rush from Kapaa. Goalkeeper Jameson Sato charged out to take a ball from an attacker and in the process he took a cleat to the face. When the final whistle blew, he was attending to a bloody nose on the sidelines.

“I’d do anything for my boys,” Sato said. “I’d do it a second time for them.”

And by boys, he meant family, especially fellow seniors, Tyler Waltjen, Justin Kenoi, David Erskine, Rylan Respicio, Kailikea Kekuawela and Israel Bowden.

“These are my brothers,” Sato said. “Whatever credit I get, this is about much more than just me.”

Kamehameha had to be an ohana to withstand resurgent Kapaa (8-3-3), which was denied its first title since 2013 only after it made a late comeback. Ryan Banasihan scored to tie the match for Kapaa just minutes before stoppage time, and Kamehameha looked as if it would be headed to overtime for the second match in a row.

“Tyler looked at me and said, “No, don’t even worry about it. We got this,’” Sato said.

“From there, it spread like wildfire.”

DeMotta earned the penalty pick after being fouled trying to play a ball in air in the box, and his game-winner was his team-high 21st goal of the season. In Friday’s shootout against Pac 5, the junior striker was slated to take Kamehameha’s fifth and potentially decisive PK, but he never got the chance after the Warriors won 4-2.

Many of Kamehameha’s senior core were underclassmen when the Warriors lost in the state finals in 2015 and ‘16. In his first year as coach, Kevin Waltjen extended the BIIF’s mastery of the D-II tournament. Hawaii Prep won consecutive titles the past two years before moving up to D-I, and Honokaa was champion in 2011-12.

“No emotion can describe how proud I am of this team,” Kevin Waltjen said. “The kids came out and set their own goals and said this is what we want to do, and they did it.

“They were tired by the final and they felt pain, but I didn’t once look out there and see that they didn’t want it.”

Kamehameha took a 1-0 lead when Erskine’s ball ricocheted off a Kapaa defender for an own goal, and it led at the half after carrying the majority of the play.

Kiran Costa tallied the the equalizer for the Kauai champions in the 50th minute, but Tyler Waltjen scored off a corner kick fewer than five minutes later.

In a postgame telephone interview, Sato was equally exuberant and appreciative.

But no pain, no gain.

“My nose is burning,” he said. “I can’t breath and I’m coughing up blood.”

His pain, hopefully, was temporary.

Championships last forever.