The goal came via pure individual effort.
Noah Balaam dribbled around his defender, beat the center back and then buried a shot from about 12 yards out.
“That’s him, that’s Noah’s style,” Hawaii Prep coach James Berry said.
Keeping Kamehameha off the scoreboard took a team effort.
That Ka Makani’s style, especially at the state Division II boys soccer tournament, where they powered back into the championship game with a 1-0 victory against their Big Island counterpart at Oahu’s Waipio Peninsula Soccer Complex.
HPA (12-3) lagged a bit in January, losing three times in an 11-day span, including a 1-0 loss to Kamehameha at home. But the BIIF champion has found firm footing in it past five contests and rides an eight-game state D-II winning streak into Saturday’s final against top-seeded Kapaa, the defending champion. Kauai’s Warriors (10-0-2) beat Seabury Hall 3-0 in the second semifinal.
“They didn’t sit back, they played us,” Berry said of the first semifinal, “and that makes it a lot more enjoyable.
“It was a battle with high energy.”
Ka Makani won consecutive D-II tournaments in 2016 and ‘17 before playing the past two years in D-I, and their return has only strengthened the BIIF’s standing at the event. The league has been represented in nine of the past 11 championship matches.
Kamehameha (11-5-1), the 2018 state champion, had won three make-or-break contests to reach the final four after losing in the BIIF semifinals.
After Balaam scored early in the second half, Berry said the Warriors “put us on our heels at times.”
Kamehameha’s best chance at an equalizer came off the foot of dangerous senior Buddy Betts, whose shot hit the inside of the post but bounced out.
“Both benches thought it was a goal,” Berry said. “An inch the other way, and it’s a different game.”
His system doesn’t require any of his fullbacks to match up with a particular opponent, but relies on each defender to carry their weight to hold down an area of the field.
Playing in front aggressive goalkeeper Zane Wilman, Berry said his backline, a mix of youth and experience, “All played solid.”
Senior Grayson Phillips and freshman Noah Condon are the center backs, with sophomore Jordan Hanano and freshman Kanoa Blake on the outside.
“Grayson plays with a lot of spirit in the back and takes the wind out of teams,” Berry said.
Makua Lani 5, Aiea 2: Stevan Perrino, Isaiah Easley and Lourenco Rebello scored in the late stages of the first half as the Lions won a consolation game.
Easley’s goal put the Lions (10-5) ahead for good, and Ka’aleleokahaku Fernandez and Kai Van Bergen found the back of the net in the second half.
Makua Lani takes on ILH champion Pac-5 in the fifth-place match.
Mililani 3, Waiakea 2: What looked like blowout in the making ended with the Warriors running out of time at Waipio Peninsula Soccer Complex.
After allowing an early strike and three goals in the first 26 minutes, BIIF champion Waiakea (11-3-1) got a breakaway score from John Grover and Kai Biegler’s goal with seven-plus minutes remaining made things interesting in the school’s first semifinal appearance since 1999.
Waiakea can match its third-place finish from 21 years ago Saturday against either Punahou or Kalani.
Liam McGehee had two goals and Jordan Fernandez also scored for the Trojans (13-2-1). The OIA’s No. 5 team seeks its first state title since 2015.