Mililani, Kalani girls in OIA final
By Leila Wai
Advertiser Staff Writer
The Mililani girls soccer team is back in the O'ahu Interscholastic Association championship game for the third straight year.
None of the players or coaches on Kalani has played for the OIA crown.
The two teams will meet tonight at 7 for the OIA Red Conference title at Kapolei.
In semifinal matches yesterday at Kapolei, Mililani beat Moanalua, 1-0, and Kalani beat Kapolei, 1-0.
All four teams already qualified for next week's HHSAA State Tournament.
Mililani, the West champion, got a second-half goal from senior forward Dee Dee Moriwaki to beat Moanalua.
"It's a good feeling to come back (to the title game)," said Ray Akiona, coach of the defending champion Trojans. "That's one of our goals. We played some really good teams this year. There's a lot of parity among the teams this year."
Mililani (14-0-0) has faced solid challenges from its first two opponents in the tournament.
On Wednesday, the Trojans beat Kaiser on penalty kicks.
Moanalua (11-3-0), the East runner-up, won a tough 2-1 game Wednesday against Pearl City in the quarterfinals.
"It was a great game, both teams came out really strong," Moanalua coach Nikki Dela Pena said. "Both teams had tough games the night before so for both of us to come out and play as hard as both teams did, it was good."
Moriwaki scored in the 56th minute on an assist from senior forward Mari Miyashiro. Miyashiro drove to the top of the 18-yard box, drawing Nā Menehune's defense to her, then found Moriwaki, who was running on Miyashiro's right for the open shot that glanced off the left goalpost.
"Mari took it down and everyone came to her," Moriwaki said. "I ran around (from the left side), and I had the whole open right side so she slotted me the ball and I took a couple of touches and I slotted it to the other side."
KALANI 1, KAPOLEI 0
Kalani will play for the OIA title for the first time since 2006 after getting a goal from four-year varsity member Sonya Aguirre.
"It's so exciting," said Aguirre. "It was an important game, and we really wanted to win because it was our last time."
East champion Kalani improved to 12-1-1; Kapolei, the West runner-up, dropped to 8-3-3.
Aguirre, who started at forward but was moved to right halfback in the second half to provide a stronger midfield, scored in the 60th minute after taking advantage of her team's pressure. Senior forward Randee Yamada broke free into the right side of the 18-yard box and the Kapolei goalkeeper came out to challenge the ball. It popped free to Aguirre, who shot from beyond the 18-yard box over the head of a defender and into an open net.
"I'm thinking, 'What do I do with this?' "Aguirre said. "But the keeper came out, and I just wanted to kick it near the goal because I knew a player couldn't touch it."
Kapolei senior Kristina Behrens thought she had the equalizer as time was expiring when her free kick skimmed off the crossbar. She also had another free kick hit the crossbar in the first half.
"We got a little tired in the second half," Kapolei coach Brian Beck said. "It was a simple mistake, and (Kalani) got the break.
"Our game plan was I think flawless, but we just got a little tired at the end."
Kalani coach Michelle Richardson-De Almeida is in her second season.
"It feels really good; today they really earned it," Richardson-De Almeida said. "They fought very hard and they played together. I think they knew the situation they were sitting in and the pressure, and regardless of what was going on, they played their game."