It likely won’t have an impact on the BIIF boys Division I soccer race, but make no mistake: Waiakea needed this entering the postseason.
Coach David Urakami would be the first to admit the Warriors have underachieved at times this season, but they met the challenge Tuesday, scoring twice in the final 10-plus minutes to beat Hawaii Prep 3-1 in a physical match at Ken Yamase Memorial Stadium.
“Today, was hard-earned,” Urakami said.
Asked what he liked the most about the effort, Urakami said, “Scrappiness. We pretty much let it all out.”
A road victory in December at Makua Lani certainly qualifies as a quality victory, but the Warriors (8-2-1, 25 points) had failed most of their previous tests: tying at Kamehameha, losing at home to Hilo and their loss Saturday at Kealakehe likely cost them the chance to host a BIIF semifinal.
Whether it be because of senior day, the bad taste left in its mouth by Saturday’s loss or Ka Makani’s presence, Waiakea responded.
“HPA is an awesome team, so it was good one to finish the regular season with,” Urakami said.
Kadin Hatakenaka scored the go-ahead goal and senior Kai Biegler added an insurance score as the Warriors maintained a precarious lead on first place in D-I. The Waveriders (8-2, 24) are just a point behind and can clinch at least the No. 2 seed with a win in their regular season finale Thursday at home against Konawaena. With three matches remaining and wins against Waiakea and Kealakehe, Hilo (7-1, 21) is best positioned to be the No. 1 seed, so Urakami said the Warriors already are gearing up for a semifinal at Kealakehe on Jan. 29.
“We learned what we did wrong against Kealakehe (last Saturday),” Urakami said, “and against HPA, a different team, but we tried to make it better.”
Waiakea’s Chase Kotomori and HPA’s Jack Jeremiah traded goals in the first half.
“We’re not finishing our chances, and when we don’t, this is what happens,” HPA coach James Berry said.
Ka Makani’s third loss matches their most since the 2015, the season before HPA began its run of four consecutive league titles, two in D-II and two in D-I. The loss opens the door for Makua Lani (6-2, 18) to grab the top seed in the Division II playoffs, though the Lions likely will have to beat Hilo on Jan. 21 to finish first.
All three of the setbacks for HPA (6-3, 18) have come in the past 11 days (1-0 at Kealakehe on Jan. 4 and 1-0 to Kamehameha last Saturday).
“We’re playing a lot tougher defenses, and it need to be, HPA had a reputation of scoring, coming forward to win games,” Berry said. “When we come up against a different style of soccer and it comes down to winning games, if we can’t adjust to that style of soccer, this is what happens.”
Kealakehe 7, Honokaa 1: Alex Bell bagged a hat trick on the Dragons’ field and Matthew Enriquez scored twice as the Waveriders moved a step closer to hosting a BIIF semifinal.
Saja Gi Lee scored for the Dragons (3-5-1), while Xander Loyola and Joseph Choi also found the back of the next for Kealakehe.
Waiakea 2, Hawaii Prep 1: Senior Emerson Aynessazian scored twice in the second half as the Warriors (7-3-1) bounced back from Saturday’s loss at Kealakehe with their best win of the season.
Ka Makani (9-1) suffered their first loss, despite getting a first-half goal from Alianna West off a nifty assist from Angela Cipriano.
Kealakehe 4, Honokaa 0: The Waveriders (5-5-1) won on the road to tie Hilo for third place in D-I.
Since the Vikings beat Kealakehe twice this season, they can secure the third seed in the playoffs with a win Saturday against Keaau in their regular-season finale or if Kealakehe loses to Konawaena that day.