Sabers deal Na Alli first loss of season

KAHULUI – With nine senior starters on a team that missed the girls soccer state tournament by the slimmest of margins last season, Maui High School is on a mission.

“We came close last year – we could have had second but we didn’t finish it off – so this year we have the most seniors coming back out of the state, so everyone’s bringing up that it’s our year,” said Tiana Lucas, a Saber senior who scored the first goal in a 2-0 win over King Kekaulike on Saturday at Maui High field. “We want to prove them right.”

Lucas scored her fourth goal in two league matches in the eighth minute off an assist from Briana Yamamoto as the Sabers (2-0-0) passed their first big test of the Maui Interscholastic League campaign.

Na Alii fell to 2-1-0.

King Kekaulike edged Maui High for the MIL’s second spot in the Division I state tournament last season based on a head-to-head tiebreaker after each team finished 10-2-2.

The Sabers have not been to the state tournament since 1995.

“This feels good, but we could have finished with more goals,” Lucas said. “We are going to come back Monday and work hard for Baldwin next week.”

The Sabers face the Bears on Wednesday at home.

“We learned that lesson last year,” Tiana Lucas said. “We learned in the first game against (King Kekaulike) last season when we lost (3-0) – it put us in a bad position for the rest of the season. We came out this year stronger today, to show them that we are still in this, that this is our year.”

Mary Lyn Johannes added Saturday’s second goal in the 21st minute, off an assist from Jordan Jarvis after a corner kick by Tiare Lucas.

The Sabers had several chances turned away by Na Alii goalkeeper Shelby Akuna.

Sariah Kamalani smacked a shot off the crossbar in the 48th minute from about 30 yards out after Akuna got a last-second touch on the ball. Tiana Lucas was stonewalled on a shot and ensuing rebound early in the second half, and again on a breakaway in the 63rd minute.

“Shelby is an awesome keeper,” said Maui High coach Tony Medeiros.

Sabers keeper Keola Allen was also spectacular, including back-to-back saves from point-blank range in the final minute before halftime.

Medeiros praised four freshmen who saw significant playing time against Na Alii – defenders Leilani Lynch and Azita Rodrigues and midfielders Yamamoto and Ocean Sade Dudoit.

King Kekaulike coach Gundi Dancil expects close competition all season among his team, Maui High, defending champion Kamehameha Maui and perennial power Baldwin.

“It is going to be a tough match every time out with the top four schools,” he said. “It will be tough. Whoever comes in, capitalizes on each other’s mistakes, coming to play. A little luck counts, too, but it will be a very good race this year.”

* Robert Collias is a