Regrets? They have a few
But Bears know, in time, they’ll be able to revel in historic championship
WAIPAHU, Oahu — On a night when there were many, Angelo Deloso-Flocco had one specific scoring chance he would like to have another shot at.
The Baldwin High School senior striker caught up to a beautiful, long pass from teammate Jayden Kozaki with about 15 minutes to go in The Queen’s Medical Center Boys State Soccer Championships Division I title match.
No offsides flag was lifted and Deloso-Flocco, who appeared to be the fastest player on the Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium field Saturday, was free. Hawaii Prep goalkeeper Stormer Horton decided to leave the goalmouth, rushing toward Deloso-Flocco, resulting in a startling collision just outside the penalty box.
The Bears were awarded a free kick, but Deloso-Flocco sent it harmlessly into the Ka Makani wall of defenders.
“The breakaway that I got the free kick on, I wish I could go back to that play right now,” Deloso-Flocco said. “That breakaway, I should have shot it, but I didn’t know where the goal was. I didn’t turn and look.”
About 20 minutes later, the match was postponed due to lightning in the area and ultimately declared a 0-0 draw, leaving the Bears and Ka Makani as co-state champions and both sides frustrated.
“Both teams were probably hurting from their match the night before, we played (No. 1-seeded) Punahou — that was a big game and so a lot of our boys are hurting, but I was proud of them for sticking it out and pushing it, giving their all tonight,” Deloso-Flocco said. “Initially, right now, we’re all taking it as a tough loss. I mean, it’s a tie, but we’re just not taking it. We wanted it all to ourselves. We’re selfish like that, but definitely soon — we’ll feel it soon, probably.
“First outer island team, it’s a big accomplishment. We’ll feel it soon, but not yet.”
Hawaii Prep made the final with a hard-fought 3-2 win over King Kekaulike.
The Bears and Ka Makani are the first Neighbor Island champions ever in D-I boys soccer — HPA moved up to the top level after winning the last two D-II state crowns.
“Definitely a big accomplishment for Neighbor Islands — we’re coming up,” said Deloso-Flocco, who is deciding between Portland, San Diego State and UC Santa Barbara for college. “The Oahu teams better watch out.”
The Bears will say goodbye to 11 seniors from this history-making team.
Center back Hayden Hawes and Deloso-Flocco were emotional as they shared their last moments together as high school teammates. The Division I state tournament is 44 years old and has never before crowned co-champions.
“I think it’s going to take some time for it to settle in, right now we’re just taking it as we’re not going to be back, and this was our last chance to do it,” Hawes said through tears. “It was tough, but I knew that our boys would just push through for each other because we play as a team. My defense stuck out and didn’t give up anything.”
Then he looked at Deloso-Flocco.
“This dude’s the greatest, man,” said Hawes, who is considering Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara as college soccer options. “I just try to get the ball to him all the time because I know he can do something with it. I’m going to miss (Deloso-Flocco) so much. The guy’s a brother to me — we’ve been playing together since we were young, babies.”
Goalkeeper Elliot Tom, a junior, was credited with seven saves, several of them stellar.
“It’s hard, I mean all season long we’ve worked hard, we’ve gone through tons of ups and downs,” Tom said. “We lost a couple players for a whole bunch of games. People say it’s family, but I swear to God, there’s no greater feeling than when I’m with this family. I’m going to miss (the seniors) a hell of a lot. They’ve become big brothers — I look up to every single one of them.”
Midfielder Daniel Souza leaves the Bears as a four-year starter. There was about 30 minutes of discussion among coaches, team captains and Hawaii High School Athletic Association officials on contingency plans to finish the game before the tie was finalized.
“We’re champs, but co-champs,” Souza said. “It would be better if we could finish the game and see who’s actually the champs. To be honest, they’re pretty good, but we could have took them — we should have been like a 4-0 lead already.”
Baldwin coach Kaniela Palazzotto summed it up as his boys lifted the trophy with gold medals around their necks.
“Nobody wants to not win in a big game, and it’s just tough,” he said. “It’ll take a while, but they’ll feel better about things soon.”
* Robert Collias is at firstname.lastname@example.org.