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Na Alii rally to beat Bears

King Kekaulike High School’s Ty Miller attempts a shot against the Baldwin defense during the first half of Na Alii’s 2-1 victory over the Bears Wednesday afternoon at King Kekaulike Stadium. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photos

PUKALANI — Down 1-0 with less than 10 minutes to play, the King Kekaulike High School boys soccer team wasn’t about to panic.

Na Alii found two goals in the final eight minutes to pull out a crucial 2-1 win over Baldwin on Wednesday at King Kekaulike Stadium. Hugh Ward tied the match in the 73rd minute off a crossing pass from Hunter Devlin, and Ty Miller scored in the final minute off a scramble in front of the Baldwin net after a corner kick.

“It was just now or never,” Miller said after sneaking up the field to score late in the match from his defender position. “I just had to get it in. I was just trying my hardest and I guess it just went in.”

The victory catapults King Kekaulike (6-1-0) to the top of the Maui Interscholastic League standings. Na Alii have 18 points, idle Kamehameha Maui (5-1-1) has 16 and Baldwin (4-2-1) is the only other team in contention for a Division I state berth, at 13.

All three teams in contention have three matches left. Kamehameha Maui and King Kekaulike meet on Saturday at King Kekaulike Stadium.

The Bears’ Kekoa Kiesling runs stride for stride with Na Alii’s Kai Thomas in the first half Wednesday.

Na Alii will enter off an exhilarating victory on a cold night Upcountry.

“It’s a big win for us,” Miller said. “It pretty much determines whether we move on or not, so yeah, it’s a pretty big win for us. We just had to work hard, no matter what.”

Baldwin jumped on top on a nifty header by Kekoa Kiesling that sailed over the reach of King Kekaulike goalkeeper Franco Melgar Martich and settled into the back of the net in the 60th minute.

Baldwin’s Kaz Kinoshita sent a shot just wide right in the 56th minute.

Miller’s free kick from 33 yards out was stopped on an impressive save by Baldwin goalie Waikili Chappell in the 42nd minute. King Kekaulike’s Kacyn Pascual was just wide right with a header in the 54th minute off a cross from Devlin.

Baldwin goalkeeper Waikili Chappell leaps but cannot reach a high penalty kick as King Kekaulike’s Thor Ventura comes in for a header in the first half Wednesday. Ventura’s header sailed in front of the goal.

“Two excellent squads out here tonight and, yeah, we definitely needed that win,” King Kekaulike coach Barry McKay said. “I don’t want to take anything away from Baldwin, but we’re extremely happy with the victory.”

McKay admitted he was concerned down 1-0 late in the match.

“It was just, ‘Gentlemen, pull it together,’ try to keep them all focused in the game continually, if there’s a sub or an injury or whatever,” McKay said. “No matter what happens, just play soccer. To get three points, it’s huge.”

Na Alii can take a stranglehold on defending the MIL title they claimed last season with a win Saturday. They finish with Lahainaluna and Maui High.

Baldwin coach Kaniela Palazzotto could only tip his cap to the victors.

Na Alii’s Angus Daniels eyes a second-half header.

“It’s hard to give up two goals in 10 minutes — man we have got to stop doing that,” Palazzotto said. “We did that to them the first time, but it was a little earlier. Their first goal, what a beautiful goal. The second one was a scramble.”

The Bears have just four seniors on the roster.

“Young team, they showed a lot of fight tonight, so I’ve got to be proud of that,” Palazzotto said.

* Robert Collias is at rcollias@mauinews.com.

Also Wednesday

King Kekaulike’s Hugh Ward advances a second-half ball between Baldwin’s Landon Wong (left) and Kaz Kinoshita.

Maui High girls 3, Lahainaluna 0

Goal scorers–Maui High: Elizabeth Bautista 3.

*****

MIL Standings

BOYS

DIVISION I

W L T Pts

King Kekaulike 6 1 0 18

Kamehameha Maui 5 1 1 16

Baldwin 4 2 1 13

Lahainaluna 3 4 0 9

Maui High 1 6 0 3

DIVISION II

W L T Pts

Seabury Hall 1 6 0 3

Tuesday’s Result

Kamehameha Maui 4, Seabury Hall 0

Wednesday’s Results

Lahainaluna 5, Maui High 1

King Kekaulike 2, Baldwin 1

Saturday’s Matches

Seabury Hall at Maui High, noon

Baldwin at Lahainaluna, 5 p.m.

Kamehameha Maui at King Kekaulike, 5 p.m.

GIRLS

DIVISION I

W L T Pts

y-King Kekaulike 8 0 1 25

y-Kamehameha Maui 7 0 2 23

Maui High 4 4 1 13

Baldwin 4 5 0 12

Lahainaluna 1 8 0 3

DIVISION II

W L T Pts

Seabury Hall 1 8 0 3

y-clinched state tournament berth

Today’s Matches

Kamehameha Maui 8, Seabury Hall 0

Maui High 3, Lahainaluna 0

King Kekaulike 6, Baldwin 0

Saturday’s Matches

Seabury Hall at Maui High, 2 p.m.

Baldwin at Lahainaluna, 7 p.m.

Kamehameha Maui at King Kekaulike, 7 p.m.