State Tourney Heats Up Soccer Rivalry For Cougars, Falcons
For both the Kalani and Kaiser high school boys soccer teams, this week’s Division I state tournament represents a chance to finish some unfinished business.
Both programs have made it to the big game over the last two seasons only to lose in the end. Whether or not both of them can recapture the magic of their post-season runs of the past few years remains to be seen, but both teams enter this week having had solid seasons.
A glance at both teams follows. (Pairings for states were to be revealed late Sunday.)
Kalani High Falcons, Record: 11-1-1
How they got here — OIA tournament recap: lost to Campbell 1-0, defeated Kahuku 6-0, defeated Kaiser 1-0.
Signature wins: over Kalaheo (4-1) on the road Dec. 29, over Kaiser on the road Jan. 25.
Players to watch: Leo Klink (state-best 20 goals), Jarrett Hayama (5), Kazuto Moribe (5), Steve Teshima (4)
Kalani at a glance: Seeded first from the East Conference for the OIA tournament, the Falcons hit an unexpected road block in the quarterfinals when they were upset by West No. 4 seed Campbell. They quickly regrouped to beat Kahuku and a good Kaiser team to grab the league’s fifth seed for this week’s state tourna- ment. Offense has been their strength, as their 48 goals to date are second only to Kapolei (49) and defending state champion Mililani (58), among OIA teams. Klink, reigning Gatorade Player of the Year, has been the catalyst as the state’s leading scor- er, but Kalani is a team with multiple weapons. It currently has a 9-0-1 record in games in which it scored two goals or more. It also has been stellar on defense, posting an amazing eight shut- outs. It was the top story of the state tournament last February when it advanced to the champi- onship game and lost to Mililani.
Kaiser High Cougars, Record: 7-5-2
How they got here — OIA tournament recap: lost to Kapolei 3-2, defeat- ed Moanalua 3-1, lost to Kalani 1-0.
Signature wins: over Aiea (4-1) Jan. 22, over Moanalua (3-1) Jan. 24.
Players to watch: Sylas Keb, Edson Gonzales, Kia Kinoshita, Michah Mokulehua
Kaiser at a glance: With four losses by a single goal to go with a pair of ties, Kaiser was only a few plays away from arriv- ing at the state tournament with a much better record. It could be one of the more dangerous teams, given their ability to keep the score down with disciplined defensive play. Despite a 1-2 record at the OIA tournament, it played well, dropping close games to West No. 1 seed Kapolei and East top seed Kalani to claim the sixth and final league berth for this week’s state tourney. Offensively, the Cougars have tallied 18 goals in their last 11 games. Kaiser is only two years removed from a riv- eting post-season run, when the team made it all the way to the DI state title game before losing to Punahou.