Spartans deal Na Alii first defeat of season
OLINDA – Call the Maui Interscholastic League boys soccer chase the race that won’t end.
MIL Division II-champion Seabury Hall dealt league-leader King Kekaulike its first loss of the season on Wednesday at the Spartans’ field, 1-0.
Seabury Hall goalkeeper Tyler Gentile was impenetrable and came up huge several times in the second half as the Spartans frantically protected a first-half own goal.
“I felt like before the game I was feeling pretty relaxed and I felt throughout the game I just kept my composure,” said Gentile, last season’s MIL first-team All-Star goalkeeper who missed several matches earlier this year with a dislocated shoulder. “Didn’t let the pressure get to me, sort of just played my game and from there, yeah, that’s how the result ended.”
Seabury (5-4-1) climbed over the .500 mark for the first time this season, while King Kekaulike (9-1-3) lost control of its own destiny for claiming its second league crown in the last three seasons.
The ball that went in the net came after a cross by Seabury Hall’s Knox Weymouth bounced off a defender and into the goal in the 35th minute.
Na Alii clinched a state berth with Baldwin’s loss on Monday, but Kamehameha Maui (9-2-1) suddenly controls the championship with two matches left and a possible 34 points to a maximum of 33 for Kekaulike, which has one to play.
With the head-to-head tiebreaker favoring Kekaulike over Kamehameha, a tie on Wednesday would have put Na Alii within a win against Maui High on Friday from securing the title.
The equalizer simply wasn’t going to find its way through Gentile on this day.
He stopped a rocket blast by Michael Kleeman in the 54th minute, dove to stone a breakaway by Jake Jacobs three minutes later, laid out to stop a line drive off the foot of Lionel Mills in the 74th minute, and watched King Kekaulike’s final chance on a free kick off the foot of Micah Tateishi sail high in stoppage time.
“Unbelievable win,” Gentile said. “Upset, that’s all I can say. I’m stoked, it just shows what we are going to be able to do at states, shows what we have been capable of all season. From here on, I think we can just show the rest of the MIL what we’re all about.”
It was a tough loss for King Kekaulike, which pounded Gentile and the Spartans’ defense in the second half.
“Hat’s off to Seabury, Seabury came out ready to play,” King Kekaulike coach Ryan Arakawa said. “Our boys got a little excited. We qualified for states, but I mean, we had two more matches and I think that got to their heads a little bit, but we’ll be ready for the next game.”
Arakawa said Na Alii’s first league loss of the season could pay dividends for his team.
“I think this will probably be good for them, they will realize they are not invincible and we can still lose, so hopefully they push harder next practice,” Arakawa said.
Seabury Hall coach Bill Cunningham’s team now has two wins and a tie against MIL Division I teams, but none sweeter than against their Upcountry rival.
“It’s the neighborhood championship, so we split it this year,” Cunningham said. “I’ve coached one of their coaches when he was 10 years old, Aaron Hamamura, and I love the kid dearly. It’s great to see the kids come back and get involved.”
* Robert Collias is at email@example.com