WAILUKU - Any which way it is sliced, it appears the Kamehameha Schools Maui and Baldwin boys soccer teams are evenly matched.
The Warriors and Bears played to a 3-3 tie on Wednesday at War Memorial Stadium as both remained unbeaten in Maui Interscholastic League play.
Baldwin (5-0-2) stayed two points ahead of Kamehameha Maui (4-0-3) in the Division I standings with King Kekaulike (4-1-1) a close third.
Baldwin’s Nick Lawrence controls the ball with teammate Jaren Ariyoshi behind him and Kamehameha Maui’s Austin MacArthur (left) and Colton Cabanas in pursuit during the teams’ 3-3 tie on Wednesday at War Memorial Stadium.
The Maui News / ROBERT COLLIAS photo
The Warriors’ Brennan Joaquin dribbles away from the Bears’ Korey Kuge.
The Maui News / ROBERT COLLIAS photo
The Bears and Warriors tied 1-1 in their first match on Dec. 4 at Kanaiaupuni Stadium.
"I expected them to battle back," Kamehameha sophomore striker Brennan Joaquin said after scoring two goals to help Kamehameha take a 3-1 lead. "They are a good team and I love how they came back. It was a great game."
The Bears took a 1-0 lead on a goal in the 12th minute by Jaren Otani before the Warriors scored three times in four minutes right before halftime - in the 35th when Joaquin beat goalie Benjamin Wuthrich after a pass from Daniel Quenga, two minutes later when Joaquin tapped home a deflection off a rocket shot by Kailoa Akoi, and in the 39th minute when Micah Alo scored after a scramble in front of the net.
|Lahainaluna vs. St. Anthony at War Memorial Stadium, 7 p.m.|
|King Kekaulike vs. Baldwin at War Memorial Stadium, 7 p.m.|
Kamehameha Maui 3, Baldwin 3
King Kekaulike vs. Lahainaluna at Lahaina Youth Center, 4 p.m.
"In the beginning of the season I told you it was going to be close and now look at it, it's very close," the 5-foot-8, 150-pound Joaquin said.
Baldwin tied the game after Matthew Foronda scored in the 59th minute and Ricky Casco controlled a rebound and dribbled through heavy traffic to score in the 73rd minute.
"Our biggest thing was to pressure the keeper this (second) half," Baldwin coach Kane Palazzotto said, who added he was happy to see Wuthrich post a second-half shutout after being barraged late in the first half. "We contemplated a goalie change, but the senior boys said, 'No, he's our guy, he's the guy we are going to win or lose with,' which was kind of cool."
Palazzotto was buoyed by his team scrambling for a tie.
"Coming in at halftime the boys were really, really frazzled," he said. "We go down 3-1 and I just came out with a smile and told the boys, 'Look, this is what it's all about. We got two things - we can fold and lose 5-1 or we can battle back and we can try to save a point.' "
Kamehameha coach Kimo Correa was impressed with the battle.
"Definitely hard fought, both teams came to play," Correa said. "We gave up a goal, an early goal, but came out battling - I give the boys credit, they came out ready to play."
Correa questioned each of the last two Baldwin goals.
"Goalie doesn't have possession of the ball, the guy is already in the offside position. I don't know what to say," he said.
Otani said this battle will go down to the wire.
The Bears nearly stole the victory in the final minute when Mitchell Marrs headed a ball to Nick Lawrence, who then headed it on goal, but Kamehameha goalkeeper Keola Paredes made a nice save.
"At halftime we got a speech from coach and Matt (Foronda) and they were both, like, 'Keep the positivity up, don't put your head down, it's still game on second half,' " Otani said. "Matt Foronda gave a beautiful speech at halftime, picked everybody up. It's going to be that way the rest of the way."
* Robert Collias is at email@example.com