Editor’s note: While the sports world is shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, West Hawaii Today will look back every Tuesday at memorable sports moments on the Big Island.
It wasn’t until 2011 that the Honokaa Dragons finally won an HHSAA state team title. The championship win came in boys soccer, but also was boosted by the help of another sport — cross-country.
West Hawaii Today’s Joe Ferraro wrote in a Feb. 27, 2011 West Hawaii Today article: Most of their boys soccer players are cross-country runners, and they’re very familiar with the words “final kick.” The Honokaa Dragons put forth a collective strong final kick Saturday at Oahu’s Waipio Peninsula Soccer Complex, and it allowed them to make school history.
Dylan Shiraki and Josh Robinson scored goals in stoppage time, putting the finishing touches on a 4-1 victory over Kapaa in the Hawaii High School Athletic Association Division II state final and the school’s first state championship.
“It just can’t be described,” Shiraki said of the accomplishment.
Honokaa head coach Maurice Miranda said all but three players on the team that year also competed in cross-country, and the conditioning of that sport carried over to the benefit of the boys soccer team. The Dragons had won their third straight BIIF boys cross-country title in October of that year, and they would win again in 2012 and 2013.
In the 45th minute of the championship game, Kapaa scored a goal to make the score 2-1 Honokaa. That would be the lone goal for the Warriors, who would finish their season 13-1.
“We had to go out there and finish it,” said junior midfielder Robert Connors, who scored 14 goals for Honokaa this season. “It’s about who wanted it more, and we came through for our team and everybody else.”
After Kapaa’s surge, (Chayce) Moniz and Connors did what they’ve done all season, winning balls in the midfield and jump-starting the offense. In the final 10 minutes of the match, Honokaa collected six of its 13 shots.
“At halftime, our coaches told us that we’re not the team that lets down and plays defense,” Moniz said. “We are the kind of team that keeps going at them. That’s what we did. We kept going at them.”
The Dragons ended the season 11-2-2. Shiraki was named the Division II state tournament Most Outstanding Player. Honokaa would return to the HHSAA state tournament again in 2012, where they would repeat as title winners.
“Kapaa was big,” Shiraki said. “But our team, we’re not big, but we play like we’re six-foot. We have a lot of heart on this team.”