STATE SOCCER | BOYS TOURNAMENT
Parity gives several teams shot at title
By Leila Wai
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Leila Wai
The Meadow Gold Dairies/ HHSAA Boys Soccer State Tournament is set to be one of the most competitive in recent history, beginning with intriguing first-round matchups.
"This tournament seems to be up in the air," Mililani co-head coach Steve McGehee said. "I looked at the bracketing, and think for the soccer spectator, I'd love to watch Leilehua play Iolani."
He called the Kaiser-Waimea game, a rematch of a first-round game last year, "another knockdown, drag-'em-out affair."
Moanalua "has a couple of kids who can really fly up top, and Hawai'i Prep is really organized," he added.
The fourth first-round game features Kealakehe and Kapolei.
"Big Island soccer is coming around, and I know Kapolei, if you aren't organized, you are going to have problems," McGehee said. "I can't see anyone getting killed, and that makes it fun. That means the next round game isn't going to be any pushover (game) either."
Mililani is the top seed, followed by Punahou, Kamehameha-Maui and Waiakea.
The following is a breakdown of schools by league:
O'AHU INTERSCHOLASTIC ASSOCIATION
Representatives: Mililani (10-1-1), Kapolei (11-1-0), Moanalua (10-2-1), Leilehua (8-4-1), Kaiser (10-2-2)
Analysis: "The OIA seemed fairly balanced," McGehee said. "It should have a strong showing."
Mililani won the OIA for the fifth straight year, beating previously undefeated Kapolei, 1-0, in the championship game.
"Mililani, we've been watching them for years, they've achieved great things," Kamehameha-Maui coach Jayson Nakasone said. "They are always on."
McGehee called Leilehua and Kapolei "teams anyone has to respect." Drew Geis and Curtis Kiyabu each scored nine goals in the regular season for Kapolei, and Leilehua's Syd Tom had seven.
Moanalua won the OIA East and is led by midfielder Kenneth Ogata, who scored seven in the regular season. Kaiser, which earned the league's fifth spot, is "a dark horse," Waiakea coach Gordon Inouye said. "They are very well coached and may surprise some people," Inouye said.
"With (midfielder) Matt Bush, you have to respect Kaiser," McGehee said.
INTERSCHOLASTIC LEAGUE OF HONOLULU
Representatives: Punahou (12-2-0), Iolani (11-2-1)
Analysis: Punahou won the ILH for the first time since 2003, and the Buffanblu are led by junior forward/midfielder Nicholas Love, who scored 14 goals.
"Punahou is my biggest worry," KS-Maui's Nakasone said. "We would be facing them if things work out. They are the ILH champs, and they're always the favorite."
Iolani is "very hot right now," Waiakea's Inouye said. The Raiders swept through the ILH's second round to earn a state berth. Junior forward Morgan Langley scored 10 goals and senior forward Raymond Machi added nine, and Lee Anderson is an "outstanding midfielder and player," Inouye said.
BIG ISLAND INTERSCHOLASTIC FEDERATION
Representatives: Waiakea (15-2), Kealakehe (13-2), Hawai'i Prep (13-4)
Analysis: "Any of our top five teams could have won the BIIF championships," Inouye said. "Both semifinals went to double overtime and penalty kicks. We're all very competitive, but I don't think we have as much depth as OIA and ILH teams. I expect the BIIF to give a good showing."
Waiakea, with an 11-game win streak, starts two seniors: midfielder Gene Okamura and forward Aaron Inouye, who are expected to carry the load.
Kealakehe took Iolani to penalty kicks last year, losing 5-3, after 100 minutes of regulation and overtime. Inouye described them as "very athletic and very fast."
Hawai'i Prep is led by C.J. Cintas. "He's my playmaker," said HPA coach Jon-Paul Mangarin.
Senior goalkeeper Tripper Atherton had nine shutouts, and also contributing were Coby Powers, Billy Case, Matt Quitiquit, Jared Wisniewski and Collin Saxby.
MAUI INTERSCHOLASTIC LEAGUE
Representative: Kamehameha-Maui (10-1-1)
Analysis: The Warriors won the league in their second season, and are a mystery to many teams. McGehee called them an "anomaly."
Coach Nakasone — who will be without Cody Felipe, who is playing in Argentina with the under-16 Olympic Development Program region team — will look to sweeper Tyler Bantilan for senior leadership. And with a 4-to-1 goals scored to goals allowed ratio, Nakasone said "the offense really produced this year, really solidifying some wins."
KAUA'I INTERSCHOLASTIC FEDERATION
Representative: Waimea (4-2-2)
Analysis: Waimea was the talk of the tournament last year, upsetting Mililani and finishing third. All-State forward Chad Thompson and midfielder Kenny Estes return, along with forward Scott Martin and defender Kollin Morikawa.
Reach Leila Wai at email@example.com.