Baldwin Dismantles Lahainaluna in MIL Boys Soccer, 4-0
By Rodney S. Yap
For the Baldwin High School boys soccer team, it’s business as usual. For Lahainaluna, the wait begins.
Baldwin got a pair of goals from Mattias Thompson en route to a 4-0 dismantling of the Lunas before an estimated crowd of 800 Tuesday night at Keopuolani Park. The shutout improved the Bears’ record to 9-3-0 with two games remaining on their schdule.
Meanwhile, Lahainaluna saw its season come to a close as a result of Hana officially forfeiting a scheduled match against the Lunas on Saturday. The 10-3-1 Lunas will now have to wait until next Friday when the regular season ends to find out their fate. That’s because Maui High (8-2-2), King Kekaulike (7-4-1) and Kamehameha Maui (5-3-2) are still alive for one of two Maui Interscholastic League Division I state tournament berths.
“I think we had a little bit of jitters in the beginning, lost a little bit of focus and they got the first goal and we were kind of shooked up a little bit,” said Lahainaluna head coach Sam Aki. “Then they got the second goal. I thought we did a much better job finishing the first half, the last few minutes.
“In the second half we made some changes and just couldnt put the ball in the net. Credit to Baldwin they were the better team tonight,” Aki said.
A tie against Baldwin would have assured the Lunas of at least a playoff game.
“We’re done since Hana forfeited,” Aki added. “All we can do now is hope that St. Anthony or Seabury Hall can pick up a tie against them (the Bears) and Maui High picks up a tie or a loss against Kamehameha (this Friday) or King Kekaulike (next Friday).”
Thompson, who collected his 16th and 17th goals of the season — at the 12th-minute mark and 69th minute, respectively — also assisted on the game’s second goal by Jaren Otani in the 14th minute. Baldwin sophomore Victor Roman-Navarro capped the scoring with a breakaway goal in extra time.
“It’s starting to come around,” said Baldwin head coach Kane Palazzotto. “We’ve made some defensive adjustments because we were giving up too much goals. The boys are actually really starting to play now and when you got a guy like Matty, who can finish goals it’s always fun to watch.”
Thompson, the 2010 MIL Player of the Year who had to sit out last season because of injury, was equally skillful after the game, re-directing the spotlight on his teammates.
“It’s not about me, it’s a team effort and I’m so proud of my team right now and the work they are putting in these last couple of weeks — we’re really putting on a run,” Thompson said. “It’s come at a great time at the end of the season and we’re making a run, so I’m really proud of the rest of the team.”
Battling leg injuries all season, Thompson said he played pain free on Tuesday.
“Feeling great tonight, there was definitely nothing bothering me tonight, with the adrenalin and everything nothing was bothering me tonight.”
Thompson added, “We’re taking it game by game and hopefully we’ll get a chance to play in the postseason. We’re going to practice our hardest and the way the guys have been practicing, it’s showing on the field. They’re working hard.”
Coach Palazzotto said his team is hearing the message the coaches have been sending.
“We’re really talented, at times we play a little off, but I think for the most part the boys play well together and they play hard for each other. That’s kind of been the message the last couple of games, ‘Win it for each other . . . win it for everybody who’s playing.’ That’s kind of what we’ve been focused on.”
Palazzotto was especially proud of third-string goal-keeper Kyson Kaiama and the play of his midfielders, senior Kasey Kuge and sophomore playmaker Nicholas Lawrence.
“I am so happy Kyson came out, he’s come around and now he has a couple of shutouts under his belt,” Palazzotto said. “It’s fun when the boys catch on. It’s fun to see the boys play well and start buying into the things we’ve been telling them. . . . Kuge played outstanding and Nick is our point guard. He’s got the best vision in the league and makes our offense work and that’s what we look for. Matty scores the goals but Nick is the guy we’re counting on to get him the ball — and those two guys did a hell of job.”