For a fifth consecutive season, Hawaii Preparatory Academy’s girls soccer team is tops in Big Island Interscholastic Federation Division II.
Led by two goals from junior Bri Vallente and a shutout by senior goalkeeper Morgan Monahan, HPA blanked Kamehameha 4-0 in the championship game at Paiea Stadium Saturday night.
“We have some pretty good girls out there. A lot of the times we just have to get out of the way and let them do what they do,” HPA head coach Steve Perry said. “I thought today Bri and Nanea had a great game. When they are both on, they put a lot of pressure on the opposition’s defense.”
Despite being the higher seed, HPA was the visiting team Saturday because Kamehameha hosted the postseason tournament. However, the drive from Waimea to Keaau didn’t phase Perry’s group.
“We like coming here,” Perry said. “Playing on the turf is a good thing for us. It really plays to our game.”
Both teams had relatively easy routes to the championship game, breezing by the competition in the semifinals. HPA swamped East-Pac 9-0, while the Warriors sunk Honokaa 5-1.
Despite the scoreboard showing a tie as the first half wound down, HPA was the aggressor and dictated the pace of the game. Ka Makani had several chances in the first half, but was unable to finish.
Then the floodgates opened.
Within a three-minute span, HPA tallied three goals, and those unsuccessful chances were quickly forgotten.
“We were down there and had some chances, but the ball just didn’t go in,” Perry said. “Then I think we had a 15-minute stretch where everything was clicking. When the girls get going like that they are hard to stop.”
Vallente kicked off the scoring for HPA in the 27th minute. The junior forward streaked in front of the net and received a beautiful through pass from Nanea Taveres. Vallente easily buried a shot past helpless Kamehameha goaltender Anuhea Leite-Ah Yo.
HPA’s second goal came just moments later, when Kaui Taylor struck on a 25-yard, powerful free kick. Leite-Ah Yo seemed to have a bead on the ball but let it slip through her hands and into the net.
As Kamehameha struggled to catch its breath after quickly falling into a two-goal hole, HPA kept up the frantic pace.
In the 29th minute, Taylor booted a corner kick, finding Tavares for another easy goal to make it 3-0.
With an outstanding individual effort, Vallente rounded out the scoring with her second goal of the first half. The junior forward battled in front of the net, gaining control of the ball and letting go of a beautiful shot into the upper-90.
Kamehameha struggled to generate any offense, but did find some success using its speed on the wings. It led to a few chances, but nothing HPA senior goalkeeper Morgan Monahan couldn’t handle.
“We had to learn to play with a four goal lead,” Perry said. “Kamehameha came out with a lot of energy in the second half and had us on our heels for a little.”
The Warriors came out strong after the break, but the sturdy Ka Makani defense managed to keep the Warriors off the scoreboard, including speedy sophomore forward JC Kerr. Kerr had a hat trick against Honokaa on Tuesday.
Kekai Wong Yuen was the most dangerous Warrior on Saturday. Wong Yuen found her way behind the HPA defense multiple times, with her best chance coming in the 65th minute. Wong Yuen blew by the defense and had a clear path to the net, but her kick hit the side of the net.
HPA, Kamehameha and Honokaa have all earned berths at the state championships. The tournament takes place at Waipio Peninsula soccer complex Feb. 5 to 8.
HPA has had good showings on the state level. Ka Makani has made it to the state title game the past two seasons, but has been unable to bring home a banner. Mid-Pac has had a stranglehold on Division II, winning the title the past three seasons and knocking off HPA in both of those championship games.
“It’s no big secret where we have been the last two years,” Perry said. “It is always a lot of hard work to get back there. Mid-Pac will be the No. 1 seed, and Kauai is really good this year as well. The last two years we have managed to play Mid-Pac pretty close. We will head over next week and figure it out from there.”