BY JOE FERRARO
WEST HAWAII TODAY
KEALAKEKUA — Konawaena's Ua Ruedy lamented her team's "bad" start, and her coach, Guy Miranda, said the Wildcats had "lots of room for improvement.''
But in the end, Konawaena got what it wanted Wednesday at Julian Yates Field: a much-needed victory.
Ruedy scored two goals for the second time in as many matches, and Konawaena defeated Honokaa 4-0 in a Big Island Interscholastic Federation girls soccer match.
"We didn't come out hard enough,'' said Ruedy, who scored her fifth and sixth goals of the season. "We weren't being first to the ball, but once we get our ground game down and (are) first to the ball, we make it happen."
Konawaena (5-2-1) started controlling the ball more on the ground shortly after senior Jasmine Ward knocked in a corner kick by senior Roxana Valdovinos in the 15th minute.
Four minutes later, junior midfielder Saxon Nagata's diagonal pass from the left flank found Ruedy near the top right corner of the penalty box.
When Honokaa junior goalkeeper Kaiu Freitas-Lau came out to challenge Ruedy's shot, the junior kicked a high lob that bounced just in front of the goal line and into the upper netting of the goal for a 2-0 Konawaena lead.
Before Ruedy's first goal, Miranda said, the Wildcats didn't control the ball as well as they wanted to.
"Too many balls in the air,'' Miranda said. "Instead of keeping it down and turning, we were popping it up, and it's difficult to score on that.
"But we're just glad to get three points.''
Konawaena, which outshot short-handed Honokaa (5-4) 19-7, made it 3-0 in the 24th minute when Nagata rifled a shot from the top of the box past Freitas-Lau and inside the left post for her sixth goal of the season.
Freitas-Lau finished the match with 10 saves, while senior Britney Paahana and freshman Kililani Kunitomo combined to shut out the Dragons in goal.
In front of Paahana and Kunitomo, Wildcat defenders Rayne Baltero, Jetahn McRight and Jashea Leleiwi kept the Dragons from generating many scoring opportunities inside the penalty box.
Honokaa's best scoring chance came in the second minute, when Honokaa junior forward Monica Carlos charged toward the goal on a breakaway. However, Baltero ran Carlos down, knocking her off the ball with a hard tackle to thwart the Dragons.
Also, junior Ashley Seo hit a shot just over the crossbar from the 6-yard box off a free kick by sophomore Allie Shiraki in the 28th minute.
The Dragons entered the match having lost two starters, senior Danielle Warren and junior Mae Quiamas, to season-ending knee injuries. Another, sophomore defender Elizabeth Aguirre, was on the mainland visiting family.
Matters got worse midway through the first half, when freshman Mia Nakachi came out of the match for precautionary reasons after hitting her head on the turf.
"She was dying to get back in so that was a good sign,'' Honokaa coach Gerald Shiraki said.
Shiraki credited Konawaena for its strong passing skills and speed, saying that beating the Wildcats would have been difficult even if the Dragons were at full strength.
"They're a better team than we are at this point,'' Shiraki said. "One of the things we have to work on is our first touch on the ball is not very good. It's hard to maintain possession when we can't string passes together.
"We've been working on it, but we need to continue to work on it. A lot of it is just a lack of experience.''
c Makua Lani 6, Parker 0: Junior Tiffany Nakamura scored three of her four goals in the first half, helping the Lions take a 5-0 halftime lead at Old Kona Airport Park.
Nakamura's second-half goal was her 12th of the season.
Junior Lauren Mabuni added her fourth and fifth goals of the season and an assist, while junior Naia Willard, sophomore Karissa Komo and freshman Keili Dorn had an assist apiece for Makua Lani (4-4).
Junior Chaya Cacal blanked the Bulls (1-7) in goal.
c Kealakehe 9, Kohala 0: Junior Kari Van Mols and senior McKenna Davidson each scored their ninth and 10th goals of the season, and senior Brittany Denzer scored her first two goals for the host Waveriders in a match that ended at halftime because of the BIIF's nine-goal mercy rule.
Senior Rachael Bianchi added her fourth goal, while senior Kyonna McDonald and junior Caili Ebaniz both found the net for the first time for Kealakehe (7-0).
Sophomore Sulley Schuster and freshman Lexie Cuaresma combined to blank the Cowgirls (1-7).
c Makua Lani 2, Parker 1: Sophomore James Whalen scored his fifth goal of the season in the 20th minute, and junior Keawe Alapai collected his seventh five minutes later for the Lions at Old Kona Airport Park.
Alapai scored his goal off a corner kick from freshman Aidan Alcos, giving Makua Lani (5-1-1) what turned out to be a much-needed insurance goal.
Junior Paul Gregg scored his fifth goal for the Bulls (3-5) in the 35th minute.
c Honokaa 7, Konawaena 0: Seniors Dylan Shiraki and Chayce Moniz, and sophomore Justin Warren each scored twice in Kealakekua as the Dragons improved to 4-0.
Senior Robert Connors also found the net for Honokaa.
Senior Maikai Coelho and sophomore Elzer Maltezo blanked the Wildcats (2-4-2) in goal.
c Kealakehe 9, Kohala 0: Junior Kapono Berard tallied two goals and an assist, and freshman Tyler DeVerse also scored for the host Waveriders in a match that ended midway through the second half because of the league's nine-goal mercy rule.
Senior Keoni Yates and sophomore Evan Alterman each had a goal and an assist, with Yates scoring his team-high seventh goal.
Junior Avery Hardie-Jordan added his sixth goal, and senior Cory Fisher scored his fifth.
Junior Connor Keale also found the net for Kealakehe (5-0), while senior Tyler Yates — who broke his right leg while playing in the BIIF Division I football championship — collected three assists in his first match of the season.
Senior goalkeeper Kawela Benson shut out the Cowboys (1-6).