KEAAU — Hawaii Preparatory Academy boys soccer coach Rich Braithwaite’s scouting report on his team in the preseason went something like this: a good, young solid unit that may have trouble scoring.
One goal was all Ka Makani needed Saturday night to meet and ultimately surpass his expectations.
Justin Perry scored late in the first half and HPA held off Christian Liberty 1-0 to claim the Big Island Interscholastic Federation Division II title at Kamehameha’s Paiea Field.
“What feels best is we played eight underclassmen today,” Braithwaite said, “I thought we might be a year or two away.”
Not with sophomores like Perry in the fold.
Braithwaite called Perry’s effort in the 36th minute a “man’s goal.”
Operating down the the right flank, Perry beat three defenders, shouldering off two.
“Saw some space, took it forward, got a fortunate bounce off (a defender) when I tried to cross it,” the right-footed Perry said. “Cut it back to my left and just drilled it with my left foot.”
Ka Makani (10-3-3) earned a seeded berth at the Hawaii High School Athletic Association tournament. The Canefire (11-4) will join them at states — which are this week on Oahu — as will Honokaa, which won a shootout Saturday against Kamehameha.
Both teams had their chances in the back-and-forth match. Striker Nakaiya Kerr led the hard-charging Canefire, but HPA sophomore goalkeeper Trent Wise was equal to the task.
“Nakaiya is a monster,” Braithwaite said.
In avenging a 6-2 regular season loss to Christian Liberty, Braithwaite credited senior sweeper Blake Hooser, freshman stopper Braden Kojima and sophomore Zen Simone, who only started playing fullback two days earlier.
“Every single time they played a ball to feet,” Braithwaite said, “we had somebody almost foul them.”
As the boys team was securing its first BIIF title, HPA’s girls team, coached by Steve Perry — Justin’s father — had just wrapped up its first state championship on Oahu.
After missing out on its first league title, Christian Liberty will make the trip to states as the BIIF runner-up for the fourth time in five years.
The Canefire were either just a bit off with their shots or denied by Wise.
Louis Moylan rattled the crossbar with a shot in the second half, and Sequoya Kerr got close in the first half but shot high.
“We’ve been working on marking in practice,” said Perry, who moved up to center midfield late in the match to join the defensive effort.
Honokaa 3, Kamehameha 2, PKs
Preston Branco started in the shootout, making three saves after substituting in at goalkeeper and converting his penalty kick, to get the Dragons back to states after a one-year absence.
Honokaa (9-3-3) lost a shootout to HPA Thursday in the BIIF semifinals with Elzer Maltezo in goal, prompting coach Maurice Miranda to hold tryouts Friday in case the Dragons again faced penalty kicks.
“Preston’s got some quickness,” Miranda said. “Elzer’s not devastated. I told Preston to save the mistakes.”
Branco did more than that.
He denied Kamehameha’s first two attempts, diving to stop Quinn Hottendorf, then stabbing away Chance Aguiar-Chartrand’s attempt.
“I played goalkeeper when I was younger,” Branco said. “When coach wanted me to play keeper, I was like, ‘OK, I got this.’”
Jevin Dement’s kick clinched a 3-1 victory in the shootout.
Blanco, who attended Kamehameha his first two years in high school, sent the game to overtime, scoring from the top of the box to tie the game at 2-2 in the second half. Sean Perala opened the scoring with a goal in the first half for Honokaa.
“Both teams played hard,” Blanco said. “This is a rivalry game for me.”
Aguiar-Chartrand and Koa Thompson found the back of the net in regulation for the Warriors (7-4-5), who were denied their first state trip since 2009.
“One of our main goals was to earn respect back to the program,” first-year coach Mario Patino said. “These guys we able to accomplish that in one season. I commend them for that.”