Na Alii boys take control

Three late goals lift King Kekaulike over Baldwin, into first place

King Kekaulike High School’s Cade Taniguchi celebrates his goal as teammate Finn Bediamol joins him during the second half of Na Alii’s 3-1 win over Baldwin on Saturday night at War Memorial Stadium. - The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

WAILUKU — The Maui Interscholastic League boys soccer standings took a sudden U-turn in less than 15 minutes on Saturday night as dusk fell at War Memorial Stadium.

King Kekaulike High School’s come-from-behind 3-1 victory over defending MIL champion Baldwin catapulted Na Alii to the top of the standings.

“Our team always has a lot of grit,” said Zakariya Woolley, who scored on a penalty kick to tie the match in the 71st minute after Connor Prados was fouled. “We always play until the very last minute. It paid off for us.”

Dylan Gomes scored on a 25-yard rocket shot in the 76th minute to give King Kekaulike a 2-1 lead, and Cade Taniguchi added the clincher two minutes later.

Now, Na Alii (5-0-2) are in position for their first MIL title since 2011. They lead the Bears (5-1-1) by a single point in the standings.

King Kekaulike’s Dylan Gomes (left) celebrates his go-ahead goal with teammate Zakariya Woolley in the second half. - The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

King Kekaulike finishes with Kamehameha Maui (5-2-0), Lahainaluna (3-3-1) and Maui High (0-6-0). The Bears finish with Maui High, Kamehameha Maui and Seabury Hall (0-6-0).

“It feels good, we’ve been looking for (first place) all season and we finally got it,” Woolley said. “That’d be great, senior year, to finally get an MIL title.”

Woolley admitted he was concerned when Angelo Deloso-Flocco scored on a scramble in front of the net after a long free kick by Danny Souza in the 65th minute to give the Bears a 1-0 lead.

“I just got subbed off, I got a cramp,” Woolley said. “I was just (mad) because I wanted to get back in the game as soon as possible. Luckily we got that penalty and then that goal from Dylan.”

King Kekaulike coach Tye Perdido knows it will not be an easy run to the finish. The top three teams are separated by two points in the standings and only two can go to the state tournament. Baldwin and Kamehameha Maui each have three MIL titles since the last time Na Alii won the crown.

Baldwin’s Kanoa Kelii (left) heads the ball as Na Alii goalkeeper Cody McDonald (right) defends in the second half. - The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

“Tremendously proud,” Perdido said. “I knew we had the fight. We’ve always fought to the very end no matter what the score is, so I didn’t expect anything less. For the momentum to shift that much in our favor and for them to finish the chances they had made us very happy as a coaching staff.

“It would mean everything — these guys deserve everything they get. They put in the effort, the whole entire team every day.”

Baldwin seemed to have the possession advantage early in the match, but Na Alii had the better chances before the Bears finally found a goal. A chance to take a strangle hold on the top spot quickly evaporated for the defending champions.

“They got a pretty efficient call right in the box,” Baldwin coach Kaniela Palazzotto said. “We’ve got to be better in those situations. We can’t get up a goal and think that the game is over and forget how to play the way we play.

“For being a mature team, that’s probably the most disappointing part of it.”

* Robert Collias is at rcollias@mauinews.com

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MIL STANDINGS

BOYS

DIVISION I

W L T Pts

King Kekaulike 5 0 2 17

Baldwin 5 1 1 16

Kamehameha Maui 5 2 0 15

Lahainaluna 3 3 1 10

Maui High 0 6 0 0

DIVISION II

W L T Pts

Seabury Hall 0 6 0 0

Saturday’s Results

Kamehameha Maui 1, Maui High 0

King Kekaulike 3, Baldwin 1

Tuesday’s Match

Maui High at Seabury Hall, 4 p.m.

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