Bears vs. Warriors: MIL Boys Fit To Be Tied, 3-3
By Rodney S. Yap
United they stand, united they fall.
Two boys soccer teams, Kamehameha Schools Maui and Baldwin High. One shared philosophy: team first, win or lose.
For the second time this season – exactly 160 minutes of battle – the two Maui Interscholastic League teams could not settle on a winner or loser.
Fit to be tied, Baldwin rallied from a two-goal, first-half deficit Wednesday to salvage a 3-3 outcome against defending champion Kamehameha Maui at War Memorial Stadium.
The game kicked off the MIL boys second-round schedule, while persevering both teams respective unbeaten records and places atop the MIL boys Division I standings. Baldwin is currently 5-0-2, two points (17-15) ahead of the Warriors’ 4-0-3.
On Dec. 4, the two teams played to a 1-1 tie in the regular-season opener at Kanaiaupuni Stadium.
Baldwin’s Ricky Casco delivered the game’s equalizer by poking home an unassisted ball past Kamehameha sophomore goal keeper Keola Paredes in the 79th minute.
“It’s all a blur when you’re in there. I was just trying to get the ball into the net and the first one was deflected and the second one I got a foot on it. . . . I’ve never been so excited in my life. In the first half, everyone was down. But our captains and our coaches, everyone came together and wanted it as a family and it’s unreal.”
Baldwin grabbed a 1-0 lead three minutes into the match on a goal by Jaren Otani. Midfielder Garrett Haia was credited with an assist. But the Warriors responded with three goals in a span of three minutes — boom, boom, boom — to close out the first half ahead 3-1.
Sophomore striker Bennan Joaquin finished a pass from Daniel Quenga for the Warriors’ first score in the 36th minute. A minute later Joaquin returned a deflected ball past Baldwin goalie Ben Wuthrich to make it 2-1. Micah Alo capped the scoring spree in the 38th minute with a shot to the backside front post from about 15 yards away.
“We saw it in the first game. We know what they are capable of. We’re playing against the best team out here,” said Baldwin head coach Kane Palazzotto. “We go up 1-0 and we are feeling good about ourselves. They come right back and now we are reeling. Halftime was good for us, we definitely needed it.”
During halftime, Palazzotto said: “I was smiling and I flipped it. I told them, ‘Hey look, the rain came and now the rain’s gone. It’ll be just like that for them.’
“I said this half is what it is. But you can’t go back in there and not take it away from the champions.”
“We’re here, we’re together,” the coach added. “We’re a family and we are going to win as a family and we are going to lose as a family. Go out there and lay it on the line and we will walk off the field with our heads up. If they were meant to win, then they were meant to win, but I want to see you guys battle until the end. Make them earn it, don’t give it to them easy.”
Casco’s header turned out to be the assist captain Matt Foronda needed to cut the deficit to 3-2 in the 59th minute.
“At halftime, everyone was saying this is what defines us as people, this is what defines our character,” Casco recalled. “Anyone can be on top and be happy about that, but its when people bounce back, when you comeback from the bottom, that is what’s inspiring, and that’s why I love this team.”
Kamehameha Maui head coach Kimo Correa felt his team was slighted when no offsides penalty was called on Baldwin’s two second-half goals.
“The boys have had to deal with adversity all year,” said Correa, who coached the Warriors to a third-place finish at the state soccer tournament last year. “The good thing is they will fight, they will keep on fighting and not give up and that’s one thing I love about the kids. We are in this together, no doubt, together as a team.
“You know what, that’s a quality opponent. You give a quality opponent a break, they will cash in and I give Baldwin credit for that, those boys fought hard as well.”
Correa said the team’s first-half barrage is not out of the ordinary.
“That was awesome and that is what these kids have in them. They can play, they can play with anybody, but they have to be consistent when they do that. We need to stay better connected, too. Don’t get too nervous, mark your guy and stay a little more focused and disciplined.”