Baldwin takes second crown in three years

KAHULUI – The Baldwin High School boys soccer team had a pretty good idea it was going to wrap up its second Maui Interscholastic League soccer title in the last three years on Saturday.

Sparkling cider awaited behind the bench late in the match, coach Kane Palazzotto kept looking over his shoulder trying to avoid an ice-water shower and the Bears’ regulars were done with their days early in the second half.

Baldwin took care of an inexperienced Maui High team 9-0 on the Sabers’ saturated field under cloudy skies to finish a 10-0-2 run through the MIL.

“I’m just really excited that we won this year,” said Nick Lawrence, one of 12 seniors on the Baldwin roster. “From preseason, our team just worked as hard as we could, our coach pushed us as hard as he could – to our limits – and I think honestly we deserve this.”

There was certainly no doubt Saturday. Baldwin got first-half goals from Lawrence, Victor Roman-Navarro, Ryan Feliciano, Nash Wuthrich and Garrett Haia before Jaren Otani scored the first two goals of the second half. Mitchell Marrs and Jaxon Spencer added the final goals in the match, which was whistled complete in the 71st minute.

That made it easier for Lawrence and Otani, the team captains, to surprise Palazzotto with his cold dousing on a cool afternoon. When the final whistle blew, the cider was soon showering players and well-wishers at midfield.

“These boys have worked so hard all year,” Palazzotto said. “A lot of people doubted the talent that we had – we had some talent, but I don’t think a lot of people realized the team that was together. We weren’t as talented as Kamehameha, maybe as talented as (third-place) King Kekaulike, but I thought we had the better team this year.

“We had a good chemistry, a good bunch of boys that really put things together, just really played hard for each other all year.”

The Sabers finished 1-10-1.

“They are a pretty good team, they are tougher than I expected,” said first-year Maui High coach Joe Rodrigues.

* Robert Collias is at