BIIF girls soccer playoffs: Ruedy’s clutch goal sends Wildcats to championship
KEALAKEKUA – Kaulana Ruedy punched in a goal in the eighth minute of the second overtime to break a scoreless tie as Konawaena defeated crosstown rival Kealakehe, 1-0, in a Big Island Interscholastic Federation Division I semifinal Wednesday night at Julian R. Yates Field.
“It was very intense,” the junior forward said. “We came out here wanting to win so badly, and we put all our hearts into it. We had no option but to win. It was just amazing.”
With the victory, the defending league-champion Wildcats advance to face Hilo in the BIIF final at 7 p.m. Saturday. Wednesday’s win also secured Konawaena a berth at the Hawaii High School Athletic Association tournament on Oahu. Last season, the Wildcats defeated the Waveriders for the BIIF crown.
“It feels so good,” Taiana Tolleson said. The Konawaena sophomore goalkeeper held Kealakehe’s offense out of the net all night. “We’ve worked so hard all season to be here. All our training and conditioning have finally paid off. No, it’s not the BIIF finals yet, but to get to the finals we had to win in the playoffs and we did it. And it feels amazing and I’m really proud of the team … I was just thankful we didn’t go to PKs.”
The game was evenly matched as expected — the teams played to a 1-1 draw in the regular season. Wednesday night’s contest was two minutes away from going to penalty kicks to decide the winner.
“I was thinking we needed to just score and win,” Ruedy said. “It was nerve-racking, but I am so happy we won. We knew it was going to be hard since we tied them during the season and in the preseason, so we were ready for this.
“Hopefully we’ll carry this momentum with us to Saturday.”
After a balanced first half, Konawaena looked more aggressive in the second, taking more shots and pressuring the Waveriders.
With nine minutes left in regulation, Wildcat forward Anathena Tuppein sped down field on fast break, split defenders and broke free. The crowd roared as she ripped a shot, but it sailed high, splitting the uprights behind goal.
Midway through the first overtime period, Ruedy hammered off a shot from a tough angle that was deflected by a diving Sullivan Schuster, who played phenomenally in goal for Kealakehe.
Tough way to end, but someone had to lose,” Waveriders head coach Jim Smith said. “Very good game, both teams are pretty equal.
“Only two minutes left until we were going to PKs, I already had my five down. I’m not too disappointed, they played their hearts out, but I know my seniors are.”