Maui Sports

Baldwin Boys Recover with 4-0 Win over Maui High

December 23, 2012, 1:04 PM HST
* Updated December 23, 1:06 PM
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Baldwin High School junior midfielder Nick Lawrence scores on this header in the 60th minute of the Bears’ 4-1 win over Maui High Saturday at War Memorial Stadium. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

By Rodney S. Yap

Over the years, the Baldwin High School boys soccer team built a reputation for being resilient.

On Saturday, the Bears were loyal to that endearing trait, bouncing back from Wednesday’s 1-0 defeat to King Kekaulike with a lopsided 4-0 win over Maui High.

The victory at War Memorial Stadium improved Baldwin’s Maui Interscholastic League boys Division I record to 4-2-0. Maui High fell to 1-3-0.

Baldwin boys coach Kane Palazzato, now in his ninth season, could not recall the last time his team dropped back-to-back games. Maintaining that unofficial streak was more than enough motivation for Palazzato, luckily his players are familiar with the team’s successful history.

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Before the match Palazzato reminded his players about the importance of playing with a positive attitude and “not pointing fingers.”

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“In life you are not always going to win,” the coach said. “So its about how well you bounce back? When you make a wrong decision in life and you lose, how do you respond to that? And as long as I’ve been a coach here all of my teams have responded well. . . . And these boys are up to it.”

Baldwin’s Austin Sajor added the Bears’ third goal in their 4-1 win over Maui High on Saturday. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

Baldwin held a 1-0 first-half lead on the strength of Kailoa Akoi’s goal in the 24th minute. Junior midfielder Nick Lawrence added the second goal in the 60th minute before the Bears closed out the contest with back-to-back goals from Austin Sajor (77th) and Taylor Sato (78th). Jaren Otani assisted on the last goal with a beautiful cross pass from the end line to the near post, where Sato was waiting.

“I pride myself in making sure our kids can bounce back from a defeat. Let’s be honest, a lot of these kids are not going to play pro soccer, so I want to make sure I can help them learn a few lessons about life before they leave school.”

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It’s life lessons like Saturday’s team-building triumph that could turnaround Baldwin’s season. Time will tell, but the Bears have been victimized by their own inconsistent effort, something Palazzato is determined to fix before Lahainaluna (5-1-1) comes to Keopuolani Park next week.

“I thought the second half worked out really well for us, but in the first half we were a little slow,” Palazzato explained. “But we are in this funk right now and we have to get out. So it was good to score some goals. We scored that one goal in the first half, but we missed a penalty shot to go up early.

“I thought the boys played well and they stuck together and knocked the ball around good.”

This time last year, Maui High beat Baldwin 1-0.

Baldwin’s Jaren Otani assisted on the Bears’ final goal of the night with this pass near the end line to the near post where teammate Taylor Sato alertly one-touched it into the net. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

This year the Sabers are dealing with an inexperience roster and a lack of depth.

“We only have 15 on our roster and seven of them are brand new,” said Maui High coach Joe Rodrigues.

“We’re losing it in the end. We were getting tired. But the boys play with a lot of heart for a team with many of its players still learning technique. Our troubles have come in the end of matches, all year it’s been our Achilles heel.”

The Sabers did welcome the return of senior captain Raymon Ledesma, who was finally cleared to play by the family physician earlier this week since suffering a football injury on Sept. 1.

“Having him back was great, but we have to give him more help. He didn’t have enough help today,” Rodrigues concluded.

In MIL girls soccer Saturday at War Memorial Stadium:

MAUI HIGH 1, BALDWIN 1

The Sabers got on the scoreboard first on a goal by Mary-Lynn Johannes in the 42nd minute. Baldwin tied it 10 minutes later on a goal by Shayna Yoshida.

The Bears are now 6-1-1 in the MIL girls Division I standings and Maui High is 4-1-1.

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