Three 2nd-Half Goals Lift Baldwin over Kekaulike
By Rodney Yap
Ricky Casco finally got a ball he could put his foot on, and boy did the Baldwin High School senior make it count.
Casco ran down a pass to the right wing from teammate Jaren Otani, and then controlled the ball just outside the penalty box. Despite being marked by King Kekaulike’s Lionel Mills, Casco did not hesitate, finding the sweet spot and ripping a shot that was momentarily stopped by veteran goalie Cameron Baker, before spinning out of his would-be grasp and into the far corner of the mauka goal.
Casco’s winning goal came in the 75th minute, unlocking a 1-1 tie Saturday, Dec. 14, at King Kekaulike Stadium. Five minutes later Otani converted a penalty kick to cap the scoring at 3-1. The Bears improved to 2-0-1, while Na Alii fell to 3-1-0 in the Maui Interscholastic League Division I standings.
“It was a beautiful ball by Jaren Otani and I couldn’t have done it without him,” said Casco, who escaped a hard tackle by Mills as he took aim on goal. “He (Otani) was playing me all day and I finally got my foot on it.”
Had Casco not hit the ball as hard as he did, Baker would have made a save instead.
“I don’t think Cameron thought he was going to shoot the ball, cause he got that ball late. But he got something on it and ended up hitting it pretty well and I think it caught Cameron off guard,” said Baldwin head coach Kane Palazzotto. “And Cameron being as big as he is, he got a hand on it.”
King Kekaulike led 1-0 at halftime, thanks to a goal in the 17th minute by junior Micah Tateishi.
“That was a nice shot by Micah. It hit the near post and bounced in,” Palazzotto said. “We actually struggled to get out of the half and they could half had another goal before the half.”
Like they did against Kamehameha Maui in their season opener, the Bears played with purpose and intensity in the second half.
“We weren’t hyped up enough at the start of the game,” said senior midfielder Nick Lawrence. “In the second half we had that mentality that we were going to get up, get forward and score as many goals as we could to try and win this game.”
It was Lawrence’s goal in the 64th minute, from about 18 yards out, that leveled the match, 1-1.
“Our forward hit it kind of sideways and Jaren Otani was running to it and I told him to let it go, cause I saw no one by me or on the side I was at, so he let it go and I let it come across my body and hit it in the opposite corner with my left foot,” Lawrence said.
“We didn’t play that bad in the first half, we were just stuck, we couldn’t figure out what we really wanted to do.
Back and forth possession was too much of a transition game for what we want to do. What we try to do is dictate the way we want to play by keeping possession. I think we did that in the second half,” Palazzotto said.
“I thought we did a good job of isolating Jake (Jacobs) today, making him run from side to side and I think he got tired toward the end. Even (Michael) Kleeman, they were cramping up in the end. That’s kind of what we want to do and that’s make their forwards have to run a little bit and open up the midfield by going side to side in the back. It opened up pretty good for us in the second half, especially once we got that first goal.”