Defense was the name of the game and Mililani was fortunate to knock off Kapolei 1-0 in the Division I quarterfinals of The Queen’s Medical Center/HHSAA Boys Soccer State Championships on Thursday night.
The OIA rival squads were hard pressed to create offensive chances at the Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium, and the Trojans (13-2-1) prevailed, thanks to a first-half penalty kick awarded after a Hurricanes infraction in the box.
With the victory over OIA champion and second-seeded Kapolei (12-1-1), Mililani advanced to tonight’s semifinals against third-seeded BIIF champion Waiakea.
“I don’t know anything about them (the Warriors),” Trojans coach Steve McGehee said about tonight’s opponent. “We’ll go home and study up and try to figure out what they’re about. I saw them play earlier in the season. They’re here for a reason. We can’t take them lightly. We’ll try to do what we can do and move the ball around and cause the problems that we cause.”
>> Photo Gallery: D-1 Soccer semifinal: Mililani vs. Kapolei
Mililani’s defense — led by center backs Kyle Foss and Joshua Ishizaka — was a problem that Kapolei couldn’t figure out. It also helped the Trojans that the Hurricanes were without playmaker and sparkplug Kawika Kelii, who was serving the first of a two-game suspension for fighting.
Trojans goalkeeper Nicholas Gaston passed all his tests on Hurricanes shots and came through with flying colors when he jumped high to knock away Thomas Mascaro-Keahi’s early tester from 16 yards out. Moments later, Elijah Hines had a great chance from in close on the left wing, but shot wide.
“Honestly, we could have done better,” Kapolei defender Dedric Tolentino said. “We could have gotten in the box more. We needed to penetrate their defense rather than trying to play long. We didn’t play to our potential, really.”
In the 27th minute, Mililani’s Jordan Fernandez was fouled in the box and center halfback Liam McGehee blasted the penalty kick high into the left corner for what turned out to be the winning goal.
“Jordan got locked up with one of their center backs and the call could have gone either way,” Mililani’s Ishizaka said. “The ref decided to give it to us.”
The Kapolei defense, led by Tolentino, did its part to keep the Trojans out of harm’s way for most of the contest.
With four minutes to go, the Hurricanes made three touch passes before moving the ball to Mascaro-Keahi, who took it deep down the left side before passing it just out of the reach of Jayden Adkison.
“We’ve played Kapolei before,” the Trojans’ Foss said. “We knew they were going to be really scrappy and knew that, hey, if we just play our game, they are going to get frustrated and they’re going to draw fouls and they’re going to be physical like they always are. Last time we played them (a 0-0 regular-season tie), we panicked. We looked back and knew the only way we could win is if we stay calm and keep the ball and possess it.”
Coach McGehee knows Kapolei is a less complete team without Kelii in the lineup.
“He’s a handful, a talented, talented player,” he said. “We knew they would put Cypress (Navarro-Acio) up (from fullback) and we wanted to keep him in front of us. They had a couple of good looks, but we had numbers back and were able to defend ’em.”
Other D-I quarterfinals
Waiakea 2, Kalaheo 1, OT
John Grover scored in the 87th minute to propel the Warriors past the Mustangs in a quarterfinal match.
Jack Bright gave Kalaheo an early 1-0 lead with a goal in the 13th minute. Waiakea’s Kai Biegler tied it in the 31st minute.
Waiakea will face Mililani in a semifinal match today at 5 p.m. at the main stadium.
Punahou 4, Kaiser 1
The top-seeded Buffanblu had their way with the Cougars, tallying four goals while allowing Kaiser to score only on an own goal.
Cole Kawakami (27th minute) scored first for a 1-0 Punahou lead, but Kaiser tied it on an own goal in the 44th minute. Treyden Buder-Nakasone (46th) put the Buffanblu ahead to stay and Nathan Daehler (50th) and Liam Nichols-Shipley (58th) followed with goals for Punahou.
Punahou will play Kalani in a semifinal match at 7 p.m. today at the main stadium.
Kalani 4, King Kekaulike 0
Kanta Ota (28th and 46th minutes) scored two goals and Travis Brubaker (23rd) and Makahekili Monaghan (64th) also scored as the Falcons defeated Na Alii.
Division II quarterfinals
Kapaa 3, Makua Lani 1
Nahoa Davis (9th minute) and Kellen O’Rourke (15th) got the Warriors off to a quick start in their quarterfinal victory over the Lions in the state soccer Division II championships on Thursday.
La‘a Gonsalves (43rd) added another goal for Kapaa after Makua Lani closed to 2-1 on Ka’eleleokahaku Fernandez’s goal in the 31st minute.
The top-seeded Warriors will play Seabury Hall in one semifinal at 3 p.m. today at the Waipio Peninsula Soccer Complex’s main stadium.
Seabury Hall 5, Aiea 1
Oliver Emde (15th minute) and Kai Merrill (23rd) scored early and Duke Romanchak (72nd, 80th) got two goals late as the Spartans blew past Na Alii to advance to the semifinals.
Thomas Lee (44th) added a goal for Seabury Hall, which faces Kapaa in today’s semifinal, and Kelly Takara (40th) scored Aiea’s lone goal.
Hawaii Prep 4, Waipahu 0
Daniel Jose Vidal Gayoso scored a hat trick with goals in the 34th, 47th and 51st minutes and Benjamin Kubo (75th) added a late goal in leading Ka Makani over the Marauders and into the semifinal round.
No. 2-seeded Hawaii Prep will face Kamehameha-Hawaii in a semifinal at 1 p.m. today at the main stadium.
Kamehameha-Hawaii 1, Pac-Five 0
The Warriors used a late goal from Buddy Betts in the 77th minute to turn back the Wolfpack. The Warriors face HPA today.