Lorenzo Reves had contained his emotions throughout a tense shootout and even after coming up with a potential game-winning save, he knew he had to bottle the excitement a few moments longer.
"I had to keep my cool," the Kaiser goalkeeper said. "You never know if they’ll make that goal, and if you’re not calm you’re not going to be ready."
But when teammate Bryston Nham’s shot hit inside the top of the net and fell into the back of the goal, the Cougars could finally exalt in reaching the state final for the first time in the program’s history.
Nham’s goal capped a 7-6 shootout that gave Kaiser a 3-2 victory over top seeded Kamehameha in the Division I semifinals of the JN Automotive/HHSAA Boys Soccer State Championships at Waipio Peninsula Soccer Complex.
"I knew from what I saw last year we can actually do this," second-year Kaiser coach Marco Antonio Gloria said. "We’re very excited, but we’re taking nothing for granted though, because every game is pulling teeth."
Kaiser senior Caleb Keb scored early in both the first and second halves. Kamehameha answered both times and two overtimes weren’t enough to decide the match.
The Cougars and Warriors went through the first five players in penalty kicks still tied 3-3 to force sudden death. Both teams then knocked in three successful attempts before Reves made a save diving to his left.
"I can’t even describe it. I was praying so hard. It was crazy," said Keb, one of five Kaiser seniors. "When Lorenzo saved that I knew we had it."
Nham, the ninth Kaiser shooter, finished the deal and sent the Cougars into today’s 7 p.m. Division I championship match.
"I was nervous, of course, but I knew I had to do this for my team," Nham said. "This was our team’s time, so I just focused in and did what we do in practice all the time.
"It was excitement and relief, major relief. We worked for this all year and now we get our shot."
Kaiser, the Oahu Interscholastic Association Red Division runner-up, had won a shootout with Roosevelt in the league playoffs last week with Reves coming up with three saves.
With Kaiser trailing 3-2 in last night’s shootout, Reves’ save on Kamehameha’s fifth shooter kept the Cougars alive. His next save turned the match in Kaiser’s favor.
"The boys gave their best effort; that’s what we teach, that’s what we preach," Kamehameha coach Andrew Ah New said.
"PKs is a funny thing. (Reves) is an excellent goalie, he’s very good at defending PKs. I’ve seen him do it before. Our keeper did a good job. The other guy just stopped one more."
Kamehameha survived a shootout with Mililani in the quarterfinals on Thursday and was seeking its seventh appearance in the state final.
But Kaiser scored less than 5 minutes into the match. The Cougars had a throw in from the right side, the ball pinballed in front of the goal before forward Keb knocked it into the net.
Reves, completing his first season as a goalie, thwarted two chances before Kamehameha tied the match in the 34th minute when Kalai Hanohano’s low drive from just outside the goal box found the net.
Keb struck again less than 7 minutes into the second half. But Kaiser was called for a foul inside the goal box with about 20 minutes left in regulation, giving Kamehameha a penalty kick. Kona Gaison then drilled a shot into the left side to tie the match.
Both teams saw scoring opportunities slide by late in regulation and the overtime periods before Kaiser emerged with the win.
Although the Cougars will be playing for the fourth straight day, "they’ll have a lot of adrenaline saved up for tomorrow," Gloria said.
Mililani 1, King Kekaulike 0
Landon Ouchi broke a scoreless tie in the 42nd minute as the Trojans (13-3-2) defeated Na Alii (8-5-1).
Hilo 2, Baldwin 1
MIkah Hatcher’s 54th minute goal proved to be the game-winner as the Vikings (15-2-1) beat the Bears (7-4-4). Hilo meets Mililani in today’s fifth-place match.
Honokaa 2, St. Anthony 1
Robert Connors broke a 1-1 tie in the 31st minute as the top-seeded Dragons (10-2-2) advanced to their second straight title game with a come-from-behind victory over the fourth-seeded Trojans (6-7-1).
St. Anthony’s got on the board in the 17th minute with a goal by midfielder Brandon Ramos, only to be equalized by Honokaa’s Josh Robinson in the 25th minute.
Kapaa 2, Hawaii Prep 1
Hunter Rice-Hudson’s golden goal in the 82nd minute lifted the second-seeded and undefeated Warriors (13-0) over Ka Makani (7-6-2).
Kapaa’s Kanoa Natatez broke a scoreless tie in the 53rd minute, but the game was squared at one when Hawaii Prep’s Malachi Kobayashi found the net in the 74th minute.
Kapaa moves into the title game at 5 p.m. against Honokaa.
Mid-Pacific 4, Radford 0
Harlan Blue-Pierce scored twice (29th minute and 70th) and teammates John Hyland (73rd) and Aiden Shin (76th) found the net as the Owls (3-8-1) shut out the Rams (7-4-3).
Konawaena 2, Waipahu 1
Kaleo Ruedy scored his second goal of the match in the 79th minute as the Wildcats (8-3-3) took down the Mauraders (7-4-1). Jouvet Apostle (56th) had the lone goal for Waipahu. Konawaena meets Mid-Pacific in today’s fifth-place match.