Mililani regains title by beating Kalani, 1-0
|State soccer championships photo gallery|
By Leila Wai
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Leila Wai
After losing its firm hold on the O'ahu Interscholastic Association title last year, the Mililani girls soccer team won it back yesterday by defeating Kalani, 1-0.
The Trojans claimed their fourth OIA title in five years in blustery conditions at Kaiser High.
"It was one of our top goals," said Stephanie Yoro, who scored the lone goal. "Last year, to come so close, it was devastating."
Mililani (11-1-1), Kalani (8-3-3), Moanalua (10-2-1), Pearl City (10-2-1) and Kaiser (8-3-2) have qualified for this week's state tournament at Kamehameha Schools on Maui. Mililani will likely earn a first-round bye. Kalani, which was playing in the OIA championship game for the first time, will make its state tournament debut this week.
Both teams benefitted from the wind — which blew mauka to makai, and even harder than usual — as each dominated the half when it had the wind at its back. Mililani took advantage of its possession time, scoring on one of the few chances of the day.
"If you had the wind, you had to get your goal," Mililani coach Ray Akiona said. "We were fortunate to get a good goal from Stephanie Yoro."
Yoro, a junior midfielder, scored in the 18th minute on a header off a throw-in from senior midfielder Kelcie Woodward near the left corner of the penalty box. Yoro's ball curled toward the goal, skimming off the far right post before bouncing back into the goal.
"In practice, we've been working on a lot of throw-ins, because Kelcie can throw it really far," Yoro said of Woodward's throw, which reached the near post on the scoring play. "I just redirected it into the goal."
Yoro said Akiona spoke to her about controlling the midfield, not allowing the Falcons to get any shots off because of the strength of the wind.
Kalani coach Ryan Shinkawa said when Mililani took the lead, "they were able to fall back and play defensively."
He said it also helped that the Trojans "are a tall and physical team, and they did a good job in the air. That's where the game was won."
Mililani's first chance to score came on a shot by sophomore forward Allison Kagawa in the seventh minute, but Kalani goalkeeper Yasmina Taketa caught the ball.
In the second half, Kalani got off a few shots, but none within the penalty box that were threatening.
Reach Leila Wai at email@example.com.