Maui Sports

MIL Soccer: Baldwin Boys Down Lahainaluna, 2-1

December 29, 2012, 12:51 PM HST
* Updated December 29, 12:54 PM
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Baldwin High School’s Kailoa Akoi (24) maintains possession as Lahainaluna’s Keoni Miranda (4) defends. Akoi scored the Bears’ second goal of the match Friday in the 18th minute as Baldwin defeated Lahainaluna 2-1 at Keopuolani Park. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

By Rodney S. Yap

The Baldwin High School boys soccer team got back-to-back goals in the first half to defeat a scrappy Lahainaluna squad 2-1 Friday night at Keopuolani Park.

Baldwin junior Victor Roman-Navarro, playing midfield for injured quarterback Nick Lawrence, scored in the 17th minute and classmate Kailoa Akoi delivered the second goal one minute later, helping the defending MIL Division I champions improved to 5-2-0 at the halfway point of the 2012-2013 season.

Lahainaluna, now 5-2-1, remains atop of the boys standings with 16 points. The Lunas were 5-0-1 just 10 days ago, before losing at home (2-1) to Kamehameha Maui on Dec. 19.

Baldwin is now tied for second place with KS-Maui (5-1-0) with 15 points apiece.

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King Kekaulike rounds out the four-team race at 4-0-1. Na Alii, the only unbeaten team in the Div. I standings, host Lahainaluna on Wednesday, beginning at 7 p.m.

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“It kind of showed in the Maui High game that if we can get a goal early it gets us on fire a little bit,” said Baldwin head coach Kane Palazzotto about his team’s early offense. “We kind of had to hang on there in the end, but I thought we were still dangerous too, and had a few scoring opportunities.

“But in the last five minutes, we have to be smarter and not knock it around in the back, but play it a little more direct.”

Lahainaluna cut the Bears’ lead to 2-1 on a goal by Keoni Miranda in the 79th minute and nearly tied the match after the restart, but Sergio Gallardo’s shot attempt from the wing whistled wide past the far post.

Lahainaluna’s Keoni Miranda (4) scored the Lunas’ only goal on this shot in the 79th minute. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

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“It was a good match, especially down to the wire there,” Lahainaluna head coach Sam Aki said. “We had our chances, but it just didn’t fall for us. Baldwin played really well, they absorbed our pressure and didn’t give up more than one goal.”

In regards to Baldwin’s two first-half goals, Aki said: “That’s just the way it goes. One moment you have balls just missing and hitting the crossbar and the next moment you are back on your heels. They got a lucky bounce on that first one and their forward did a good job of putting it away.”

On Roman-Navarro’s goal, Palazzotto said, “The defender miss hit the ball and it bounced right to Victor and he made a nice wide-open finish, one-on-one with the keeper.”

Aki said Akoi, “Broke loose on that second goal and did a good job of finishing. We kind of lost focus and panicked a little bit. But we regain focus in the second half and especially at the end we put a lot of pressure on them.”

Palazzotto said Akoi is emerging as one of the Bears’ go-to players and his presence was felt particularly in the absence of Lawrence, who sat out with an ankle injury, but is expected to return to the lineup next week.

“We’re in a good position still,” said Aki. “A win could have put us in the drivers seat but right now even if we should win out it’s still not in our hands. King Kekaulike is in the best position with no losses, so we look forward to playing them on Wednesday.”

In MIL girls soccer:

Baldwin improved to 7-1-1, four points better than runner-up Kamehameha Maui at 6-2-0, with a 2-0 win over Lahainaluna girls in Friday’s early match at Keopuolani Park.

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