Mililani boys claim OIA Red in OT
By Kyle Sakamoto
Advertiser Staff Writer
There have been three O'ahu Interscholastic Association Red Conference boys soccer tournaments, and Mililani has scored a quick hat trick.
Ryan Akiu, a battle-tested senior, struck at the beginning and end in a 2-1 overtime victory over host Kapolei in last night's tournament final.
Akiu scored on a rebound of his own penalty kick seven minutes into overtime (87th minute) to win it for the Trojans.
Before stepping up to the penalty spot, Akiu said he "was thinking about scoring and how it was going to feel after we win."
Things didn't go how he envisioned —Kapolei goalkeeper Cody Kamei stopped the penalty shot —but the ball bounced to his left and Akiu was there to blast it into the net to win it for Mililani, the West champion.
"I knew what to do with the ball immediately," said Akiu, who has been on all three OIA Red championship teams.
The penalty shot was set up when Mililani's Robby Uemoto was shoved down in the penalty box from behind.
"We've been in a situation where we were on the receiving end of that. It's good where we're getting the penalty kick," said Mililani co-coach Jeff Yamamoto.
In the 84th minute, Kapolei went a player down after one of its midfielders was red carded for striking a Mililani player after a foul was called.
"It's an emotional game and emotions got the best of him," Kapolei coach Bryce Kaneshiro said of the red-carded player. "We actually got the call (foul), but it was just one of those things where he got wrapped up in the emotion."
Akiu scored in the second minute on a beautifully curled left-footed shot — he is right-footed — from just outside the penalty box. The shot from the left side bent over the Hurricanes goal keeper and into the right side of the goal.
"I read the flight of the ball," Akiu said. "I volleyed it and put top-spin on the ball so it was able to dip and it went into the goal."
Added Yamamoto: "Very, very intelligent player. He knows the game technically, tactically. He is a coach on the field."
Kapolei, the West runner-up, tied it at 1-1 in the 12th minute on a header by Adrian Yunson off a long pass from Eric Morales.
"I'm extremely proud of our guys," Kaneshiro said. "They played their hearts out. To come back after an early goal, they could have just fell down and let two and three go in, but they stepped it up and got the goal."
Mililani (12-1) appeared to take the lead in the final seconds of regulation when Uemoto's shot from the right side landed on top of the net. Another ball inside the goal was jostled around, giving the illusion that Uemoto had scored.
A few seconds later the official blew the whistle signalling the end of regulation.
The OIA broke into Red (Division I) and White (Division II) conferences in 2008. Mililani has won 11 OIA titles under Yamamoto with the first coming in 1995.
Mililani, Kapolei (8-2-3), Pearl City, 'Aiea and Moanalua will represent the OIA in the JN Automotive Group Division I State Championships, Feb. 10 to 13 at Waipi'o Peninsula Soccer Park. Roosevelt will play Kamehameha, the No. 3 Interscholastic League of Honolulu team, today for another state berth.
"The bigger prize is the state tournament. That's the best of the best," Kapolei's Kaneshiro said.