Maui Sports

KSM vs. BHS: MIL Boys Soccer Opener a Classic

December 5, 2013, 7:56 PM HST
* Updated December 7, 3:21 PM
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Baldwin's Nick Lawrence passes the ball to a teammate Wednesday, Dec. 4, while Kamehameha Maui defender Angus Owan looks on. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

Baldwin’s Nick Lawrence passes the ball to a teammate Wednesday, Dec. 4, while Kamehameha Maui defender A.J. Owan looks on. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

By Rodney S. Yap

It was just one battle, the first of many fans of Maui Interscholastic League Division I boys soccer are anticipating for the 2014 season, which officially kicked off Wednesday night at Kanaiaupuni Stadium.

Host and defending MIL champion Kamehameha Schools Maui controlled the tempo in the first half, but had nothing to show for it until sophomore midfielder Brennan Joaquin found the back of the net in the 39th minute.

Teammate Micah Alo delivered the assist as the Warriors’ relentless offensive attack appeared to wear down the Bears’ defense late in the first half, 1-0.

Baldwin midfielder Kailoa Akoi looks for an open teammate Wednesday, Dec. 4, against Baldwin High. The game ended in a 1-1 tie. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

Baldwin midfielder Kailoa Akoi looks for an open teammate Wednesday, Dec. 4, against Baldwin High. The game ended in a 1-1 tie. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

Baldwin answered early in the second half, when senior midfielder Nick Lawrence finished a “lucky” ball in open space deep inside the Warriors’ last line of defenders.

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The match-tying goal, 1-1, by Lawrence came four minutes into the second half as both teams fought evenly the rest of the way.

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“I thought both teams played well and came out to play,” said Kamehameha Maui head coach Kimo Correa. “Hats off to Baldwin because the brought it, and our boys have been through a lot so I give them credit because they played hard.”

In the end, it was just one game, one battle. When the dust settles in February, the team wins more battles win the war — and both schools expect King Kekaulike and Lahainaluna to be right in the thick of things.

“We didn’t talk about last year,” said Correa about his pregame message to the state’s third-place team from a year ago at 12-3-1. “This is a new season and we have to take one game at a time. This was just one game. We have a goal and we have to stick to our goal.”

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In addition to Joaquin, KS-Maui got good midfield play by Baldwin transfer Kailoa Akoi, Daniel Quenga, and Colton Cabanas.

“They smashed us in the first half,” said Baldwin head coach Kane Palazzotto. “We seemed out of it. We didn’t press very well and in the second half we pressed them all over the field. But their midfielders had so much space in the first half.

Baldwin High's Jaren Otani (10) tries to penetrate Kamehameha Maui's defense and marker Avinash Singh (14) Wednesday, Dec. 4. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

Baldwin High’s Jaren Otani (10) tries to penetrate Kamehameha Maui’s defense and the mark of Avinash Singh (14) Wednesday, Dec. 4. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

“For us, I am proud of the way the boys bounced back at halftime, cause they walked off the field like dead dogs after the game. I tried to spark them at halftime and told them, ‘Let’s not leave the field like we didn’t put everything we had into the second half,’ and I think we did that.”

The 5-foot, 10-inch Lawrence, who scored 12 goals last year, said his goal was a “lucky” shot.

“It was just a lucky ball, lucky touch from the other team and it came right to me and I just swatted it.

“They have a lot of really great players on their team. They are the defending champions and we need to take it away from them. Our boys played hard. We played for each other and we played as a team and that was important for us.”

Cabanas almost broke the 1-1 tie with three minutes left in the match, but his laser shot sailed over the crossbar, missing by inches, and drawing a loud sigh of  disappointment from home team fans.

Baldwin's Mitchell Marrs and Kamehameha Maui's Avinash Singh follow the ball from the sidelines during second-half action Wednesday, Dec. 4. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

Baldwin’s Mitchell Marrs and Kamehameha Maui’s Avinash Singh follow the ball from the sidelines during second-half action Wednesday, Dec. 4. Photo by Rodney S. Yap.

“I think we played decent, but we were trying to rush the ball up too much and we weren’t playing our game of switching back and forth,” Cabanas said. “I know I had that shot, but I didn’t stay over it so I couldn’t put it on frame. Overall, I think we just have to focus more in practice.”

Senior forward Jaren Otani had an outstanding game for the Bears, while senior center back Matthew Foronda anchored the visitor’s defense.

“Win or lose this game does not define our season and where we want to go. It means we may have to chase from behind but we are not out of it in any way. Win or lose it was just one game for us. It (the tie) keeps everything tighter.”

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