Kalani girls capture East title
by Stanley Lee
Advertiser Staff Writer
Assigned to mark the league's leading scorer, a midfielder converted to defender knew she couldn't be scared.
Tambrie Awai, who has gradually eased into her role as a defender over the season, led Kalani's double team in the backfield, helping the host Falcons beat Moanalua, 2-0, yesterday in a game that decided the O'ahu Interscholastic Association Red East girls soccer title.
"I felt that it was a challenge but I knew I couldn't be scared and I knew I had to do the best I could and play my game," said Awai, who marked Moanalua's Tiana Fujimoto.
The Falcons (10-1-1, 31 points) head into this week's OIA championships as the East's top seed. Nā Menehune (10-2-0, 30 points) will be the East's second seed.
"We worked on defense a lot this week because we knew we had her (Fujimoto) coming. She's going to come out hard and we knew that we had to work on our defensive shape," said Kalani senior Sonya Aguirre, who scored along with twin Andrea.
Awai marked Fujimoto, who came into the game with 20 goals, and the Falcons had at least three — sometimes four — players back on defense, doubling up on Moanalua's two forwards.
"We knew Tiana Fujimoto is the leading scorer and we knew she was dangerous in the back so we had to make sure everything was covered and make sure we had each other's backs and they don't score," Awai said.
Down 1-0 at halftime, Nā Menehune attacked early in the second. Fujimoto showed her speed on the first play, taking the ball down the right sideline and shooting a low, rolling shot toward the goal that was stopped by the Kalani goalie.
Kalani went up 2-0 after Andrea Aguirre sent a ball from about 25 yards out into the top right of the goal. Her goal came minutes after her sister nearly scored from the top of the 18-yard box when she and several Moanalua players, including the goalkeeper, converged on the ball in the 50th minute. The ball got loose and Sonya Aguirre flicked the ball over the crowd, and in near slow motion, the ball cruised just wide of the left post.
"Coach was telling us that we had to possess the game and play our game, which is possession, and control the ball, and that's how we controlled the game by controlling the ball," Awai said of her team's halftime talk. "And we actually put in another goal."
Nā Menehune had a great opportunity in the 72nd minute when a shot from the left rolled across the goal and off the right post.
Aside from the East title, Sonya Aguirre said the team also wanted to win on Senior Day, which was played in front of a crowd of about 150.
"Our coach really motivated us to take it and win the game," said Sonya Aguirre, who scored in the 13th minute off an assist by Randee Yamada. "It was our senior game and it was our last game and we wanted to do it for our supporters that came. We just followed through and did what we wanted to."