HILO — At the beginning of the season, Hilo senior goalie Jordyn Breitbarth was having trouble punching balls over the crossbar. So, in her free time, the first-year soccer player worked out with her mother, Lori, to improve her goal-protecting skills, displaying a work ethic that’s a common denominator with her teammates.
Senior midfielder Delcee Ramos is another worker bee. She spent her summer playing with a club team, improved her play and credited her teammates for sharpening her game, which in turn helped the Vikings, who are a much different team than the last time they played Waiakea.
In the rematch, Ramos sparked the offense with two assists and Breitbarth pitched a shutout as Hilo stonewalled the Warriors 2-0 in a Big Island Interscholastic Federation Division I girls soccer semifinal matchup Wednesday at Hilo Bayfront field, which was left soft and soggy after a heavy all-day downpour.
The Vikings (10-1-1) avenged an earlier loss to the Warriors (7-4-1), who finished their season with four losses in their last five games.
Hilo will play for its first BIIF championship since its three-year title run from 2009 to ’11. Waiakea will miss the Hawaii High School Athletic Association Division I state tournament for the fourth straight season.
During the first meeting, with dry weather conditions on the fast artificial turf at Ken Yamase Memorial Stadium, shots on goal were limited, but Waiakea was on target and beat Hilo 4-1, sneaking in three goals by Sabrina Scott through Breitbarth’s fingers.
Wednesday, the rivals fired at will. The Warriors had 10 decent shots on goal; the Vikings had a dozen, including two at point-blank range — one huge difference in the game. Another vital factor was Breitbarth walling off every Waiakea attempt.
“It was exciting. We communicated well, got our passing and through balls pretty good,” said Breitbarth, an All-BIIF first-team outfielder for softball. “On defense, we played strong and communicated. The shutout feels great.
“We’re not a soccer family. It’s my first year in soccer. It’s my senior year and I thought I’d try something new. Softball helps with my hand-eye coordination. It helps me judge high balls. I just had to adjust to the size of the ball.”
Hilo’s defense plugged gaps every time the Warriors attempted to dribble down the middle or chased after through balls, and physical right fullback Alysha Medeiros bolted down her flank while Serena Nasworthy, Hilo’s tallest player at 5 feet 7, shadowed Scott and held her scoreless.
While the Warriors couldn’t work the ball close enough to fire a high-percentage shot, Ramos’ ball-handling skills gave her team two clean looks. On the day, her passing was better than her shooting. With five minutes left, she took a penalty kick after a Waiakea hand ball and missed wide right.
About 25 minutes into the first half, near midfield, Ramos, small at 5 feet 2 but big in attitude, took possession and delivered a well-paced ball that Mehana Sabado-Halpern kicked past goalie Jordan Melchor.
Five minutes later, the Viking were on the run and Ramos sent a beauty between two defenders, Lolly Higa made a crossing run, found the ball at her feet and finished at the 35-minute mark for a 2-0 lead.
“The second one I had better touch and it was more accurate,” Ramos said. “We communicated a lot with each other and connected passes.
“Jordyn was amazing. I wish she had tried out sooner for the team. She’s come a long way after playing softball. I’m really proud of her. The best thing about our team is we connect on and off the field. The seniors are able to reach out to the freshman and the freshmen to the seniors. We’re all friends and it’s cool.”
The Warriors came up empty with five minutes left until halftime. Then the second half rolled around, and even for the next 40 minutes they couldn’t string together three straight passes, often losing possessions with inaccurate long kicks or having the Vikings poke the ball away for steals.
“We executed our game plan. We wanted to send through balls,” Hilo coach Paul Bello said. “I felt like we could beat their defense, plus we’ve got Lolly and Mehana’s speed. We’ve got five or six track girls and the girls really wanted this game.
“The team is close and they talk. That’s something we wanted to work on specifically, shutting down our gaps on defense. We had Serena on Scott and she did a job on her. Serena has an uncanny way of getting her foot on the ball in weird angles. She even took out the ref on one play.”
Hawaii Preparatory Academy 9, East-Pac 0
Bri Vallente notched a hat trick in Waimea to lift Ka Makani into the BIIF Division II championship game.
HPA (9-2-1) will play Kamehameha (8-3-1) at 5 p.m. Saturday at the Warriors’ field as its searches for its fifth consecutive title. Ka Makani went on the road to win 3-0 in the teams’ regular-season meeting Dec. 13.
In Wednesday’s semifinal, Nanea Tavares, Gabbie Ewing and Haley Dow each contributed two goals for Ka Makani, while goalkeepers Morgan Monahan and Taimane Kamaka kept the Firebirds (3-9) off the scoreboard.
Kamehameha and HPA already own berths at the Hawaii High School Athletic Association tournament, which will be held Feb. 5 to 8 on Oahu.
At 3 p.m. today in the third-place game, East-Pac visits Honokaa (4-7-1) with a state spot on the line. The loser travels to Kauai on Saturday for a state play-in game.
Hawaii Preparatory Academy 6, Parker 1
Justin Perry finished with a goal and two assists, and Kharim Barthson and Kama Hurwitz each scored and added assists as host Ka Makani moved into a tie for second place with Honokaa in Division II.
In a renewal of North Hawaii’s rivalry, HPA (7-2-3) and the Dragons (7-2-3) meet at 3 p.m. Friday in Waimea to close the regular season, with the winner earning at least a bye in the six-team Division II playoffs as the No. 2 seed. If the teams play to a draw, the first tiebreaker will be goal differential.
Zen Simone, Josh Lawrence and Dylan Ryan also found the back of the net Wednesday for HPA.
Skyler Pleuss headed in a goal for the Bulls, whose season is over at 1-11-1.
HPA’s victory means Kamehameha will be the fourth seed in the playoffs, hosting Makua Lani in the first round Feb. 4.