Warriors girls improve to 3-0

PUKALANI – It was fitting that Lily Higashino put the finishing touch on a 6-1 victory for the Kamehameha Schools Maui girls soccer team over cross-the-street rival King Kekaulike on Tuesday night.

Higashino’s goal in the 80th minute showed just how deep this Warriors team can be – the team captain was the fifth scorer in the match for the visitors at King Kekaulike Stadium.

“We have been training really hard this whole year,” Higashino said. “We have kind of been working on our strengths and weaknesses because yesterday was a rest day after our big game Saturday against Baldwin. We just worked on the small things and I think we just really showed well today.”

Kamehameha won the Maui Interscholastic League crown for the second time in school history last season – the first came in 2008.

“This year is a new year, we can’t just base our actions this year off of last year’s title,” Higashino said. “There’s new teams and everything is different, so we just have to keep pushing.”

The Warriors (3-0-0) did that from the outset against Na Alii (2-2-0).

Higashino made a pretty pass to Quinn Williams, who knocked home the first goal on a breakaway in the 15th minute. Higashino missed just wide right in the 25th minute, but Kekaiokalani Aquino scored on a rebound after a Williams throw-in in the 26th minute.

King Kekaulike goalkeeper Shelby Akuna tipped a shot from Taira Lucas just wide right in the 30th minute.

Williams scored her fourth goal in two matches on a 15-yard blast in the 39th minute as Kamehameha led 3-0 at halftime after outshooting Kekaulike 7-2.

The Warrriors’ Lexi Almeida had a goal denied on an offsides call in the 42nd minute and Higashino was stoned on a stellar save by Akuna in the 46th minute. Almeida scored from 20 yards out moments later to make it 4-0 and Brandy Takiguchi made it 5-0 in the 58th minute.

King Kekaulike’s Darian Fernandez scored on a break after a nifty through ball from Nikki Musto in the 62nd minute to make it 5-1.

Higashino got on the board just before the final whistle on a 30-yard free kick. She is the third Higashino sister to shine for the Warriors, following Kendall and Lizzie. Lily hopes to join Lizzie on the University of Pacific team in Stockton, Calif., next season.

“They come home sometimes and they come to practice with us,” Lily said. “We don’t talk too much about soccer.”

Lily Higashino hopes to show her sisters just how much potential this team has when they arrive home this weekend.

“I think we have a lot of potential, especially since there’s only five seniors,” she said. “There’s only like six juniors, so the rest are sophomores and freshmen, so when they come up they will still carry the legacy on.”

Second-year Kamehameha coach Steven Mau said it is all in the plan.

“We just played to our game, knocked the ball around, ticky-tocka, make some options open, don’t crowd the passing lanes, make those direct runs, and, you know, capitalize,” Mau said. “These girls athletically, they are inclined already. They come from good clubs, not all the same club, but they have got a good chemistry. They have got it on and off the field.”

King Kekaulike coach Gundi Dancil was impressed.

“Oh, they came here to play today,” Dancil said of the Warriors. “Hats off to coach (Mau) because he prepared his team very well. They had some breaks in the beginning, they capitalized and we couldn’t come back.”

* Robert Collias is a rcollias@mauinews.com