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Na Alii fall to Warriors 1-0

Aluli’s goal lifts Kamehameha Kapalama over King Kekaulike in state championship

King Kekaulike High School’s Teani Arakawa (right) and Kamehameha Kapalama’s Kamryn Kaleiohi-Haia battle for the ball during the Division I state championship match Saturday night at the Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium. PARISH KALEIWAHEA photos

WAIPAHU, Oahu — Last season, the King Kekaulike High School girls soccer team was blown out of the state tournament by eventual champion Kamehameha Kapalama.

In the rematch Saturday on a cool night at the Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium, Na Alii made it much more of a game before falling to the Warriors 1-0 in The Queen’s Medical Center/HHSAA Division I State Championship final.

Anuhea Aluli scored on a rainbow shot that sailed just over the head of the King Kekaulike goalkeeper in the 50th minute, and Kamehameha won its second straight state title.

“They played a hard game,” Na Alii junior captain Teani Arakawa said. “They were holding it down. But we just needed to regroup, try to make opportunities, but they kept shutting us down. But we had our opportunities.”

The tough, physical, fast-paced play made it one of the more exciting state finals in recent memory. At one point, after some pushing, the head referee stopped to talk with Arakawa and Kamehameha’s Kaeliah Kahana.

King Kekaulike’s Madelyn Dougherty controls the ball between Kamehameha Kapalama’s Serena Lovell (left) and Caly Ah Soon.

“We expected that, and we welcomed that,” King Kekaulike coach Gundi Dancil said of the physicality of the match. “We know that any time you play in a championship game, it’s going to be like that.”

Last year, King Kekaulike lost 6-0 to Kamehameha in the state semifinals. That fact was not lost on this season’s Na Alii squad, who made school history by playing in its first-ever girls soccer state final.

“We knew what happened last year, and this year we were like, we have to push harder, work together and just try to make sure we get a closer game,” Arakawa said.

It certainly was.

Possession was fairly even in the first half, though most of the early chances went to Na Alii (11-1-1).

King Kekaulike players pose with their runner-up trophy Saturday night.

King Kekaulike got a pair of corner kicks in the first 10 minutes, but both times header attempts went over the net. A free kick by Arakawa from midfield was caught by the Kamehameha goalie.

The physical play really picked up midway through the first, with both teams battling for the ball and exchanging possession. The crowd became even more riled up as both goalkeepers came up with stellar saves after coming out of the net.

The Warriors (11-0-2) had a pair of corner kicks of their own, but weren’t able to get a shot off. Na Alii also had a few shots at goal go wide.

“We were telling the girls that we need to have at least one more up there to be able to receive that ball that’s coming in,” Dancil said. “Yes, we were taking shots, but it was from outside and the narrow margin that we were taking the shots at, the percentage was less than 60-40.”

The early minutes of the second half saw a couple of terrific saves by each goalkeeper before the Warriors finally broke through on Aluli’s perfectly placed kick from midfield.

King Kekaulike’s Zoe Bailey and Kamehameha Kapalama’s Kalia Kalua chase after the ball as Na Alii’s Jaycie-Ann Valoroso trails.

“Once we seen that ball going through, and the lanes opened up, we could see (Aluli) was going to set up for a kick,” Dancil said. “We left that big gap in the lane so she could see the goal.”

Both teams had several more chances, and with the final minutes ticking away, Na Alii had a couple come close. With under three minutes remaining, Arakawa’s free kick from just outside the top of the box bounced off the wall of Warriors and back to Arakawa, whose second shot went off a Kamehameha player for a corner kick. Arakawa sent the ball in, and it bounced near the goal line before being cleared just in time.

Na Alii’s last chance came in the final minute as Madelyn Dougherty got a shot off, but it sailed over the goal.

“We stayed in our game,” Dancil said. “Our game was to push Kapalama as much as we can, and not to worry about what they have. We need to bring our game to the field, and also to have our passing game, and make it an enjoyable game for them, the spectators and fans.

“I’d like to say hat’s off to Kamehameha Schools for giving us that competition that we crave,” he added.

Na Alii’s Leiala Aruda heads the ball over the Warriors’ Cheyenne Sturm.

Na Alii’s Arakawa, Ui Kaaihue, Zoe Asue and Leiala Aruda were named to the all-tournament team.

Dancil gave thanks to his senior and junior captains for “keeping the ladies together and pushing them as much as they could.”

Na Alii lose just four seniors — Asue, Zoe Bailey, Sarah Fusato and Sheylyn Ranis — so it’s not hard to imagine another run at the title next year. Certainly, the Maui Interscholastic League teams showed they could hang with the state’s best — MIL runner-up Kamehameha Maui also lost a close battle to Kapalama, 1-0 in the quarterfinals Thursday.

“Such a great game. King Kekaulike was absolutely amazing, they’re an amazing opponent,” Kamehameha Kapalama coach Michelle Moore said. “I mean, the game could’ve gone either way. Let’s be honest, it could’ve gone either way.”

* Stefanie Nakasone is at sports@mauinews.com.

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Girls soccer State Championships

Saturday’s Results

At Waipio Peninsula Soccer Comples

DIVISION I

Fifth place

Mililani 2, Kamehameha Maui 1

Third place

Konawaena 2, Pearl City 2, tie

Championship

Kamehameha Kapalama 1, King Ke­kau­like 0

DIVISION II

Consolation final

Sacred Hearts 0, Radford 0, tie

Fifth place

Kamehameha Hawaii 3, Waimea 0

Third place

Kapaa 2, Mid-Pacific 2, tie

Championship

Hawaii Prep 4, Kauai 1