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Baldwin boys bounce Lunas

Baldwin's Bishop Wickes and Lahainaluna's Anatello Flores battle for the ball in the first half. The Bears won 3-1. -- The Maui News / CHRIS SUGIDONO photo

KAHULUI — Baldwin High School’s Bishop Wickes danced through a trio of defenders before rocketing a left-footed shot past the outstretched hands of Lahainaluna’s goalkeeper Saturday afternoon at Maui High School.

“This whole week I was trying to focus more on my left foot shots, my left foot passing and everything,” Wickes said. “I’m trying to get both of my feet at the same level. In the moment, muscle memory just kicks in, and you just do what you do.”

The Bears would not look back as they scored another two unanswered goals to win 3-1 over the Lunas in a Maui Interscholastic League Division I boys soccer match. Baldwin’s Chris Barry scored the other two goals on penalty kicks and Lahainaluna’s Elias Gonzalez scored off a header that followed a deflection.

The victory moves Baldwin to 3-1-0 in the MIL, while Lahainaluna dropped to 2-1-1.

Both teams squandered early opportunities in the first half until Wickes buried his goal into the back of the net in the 27th minute.

Baldwin’s Maluhia Plunkett dribbles the ball in front of Lahainaluna’s Santiago Vera in the first half. -- The Maui News / CHRIS SUGIDONO photo

“I felt as a team we played very well together and we accomplished what we wanted to do, which was get ahead and no balls over the back line,” he said. “We put the game away the way we wanted to.”

At the 38th minute, Barry settled a pass just inside the penalty box before getting fouled on a slide tackle. He was again fouled on another slide tackle in the 42nd.

Gonzalez notched the Lunas’ only goal in the 47th minute.

Bears’ center back Kobi Kuge said he was a little upset giving up the shutout, but was proud of the win.

“We all did our parts; just little fixes we could’ve made here and there,” Kuge said. “At the end I got a little tilted, but I got back on it. We were calm, composed, moved the ball well, got space, found space, and got the ball forward.”

Lahainaluna’s Brasil Ruiz-Rockett passes the ball forward in front of Baldwin’s Tanner Kiesling in the first half. -- The Maui News / CHRIS SUGIDONO photo

Baldwin coach Kaniela Palazzotto said he was happy that his team’s defense “stepped up today” and matched Lahainaluna’s “intensity.” He said the win keeps his squad in control of its own destiny as it heads into the second half of the MIL season with one more game against Na Alii.

“I thought it was a hard-fought battle,” Palazzotto said. “This was a big game for us, so this solidifies us, and where we need to be and still gives us a chance in the second round to do something against King K.”

Lahainaluna coach Sam Aki gave credit to Baldwin, though the Lunas were missing four starters in the match. He said his team will need to improve its midfield play and finishing.

“Baldwin took advantage of their scoring opportunities and put the ball in the net,” Aki said. “It was a good game and it was unlucky for us, but it’s a long season. It’s going to be good. I love the parity, and it’s going to be a battle to the end.”

KS Maui 3, Seabury Hall 0

Goals-Teva Pimentel 2, Sam Ostermiller 1.

* Chris Sugidono can be reached at csugidono@mauinews.com.