Justin Shiigi carried a lot of titles at the Volcano International Soccer Tournament.
He was a player, co-coach and architect for Keahi, surrounding himself with former teammates and friends.
And like any good buddy, Aidan Nakamura was there when it mattered, scoring late in the second half to lift Keahi past the Dragons 2-1 in the under-19 boys final at Hilo Bayfront.
“I don’t know the last time he scored,” Shiigi said of his former Vikings teammate. “We threw him up (at forward) in every game in this tournament and he didn’t score, but he came through when we needed him.”
While Maurice Miranda’s Dragons just completed their American Youth Soccer Association summer season in North Hawaii, Shiigi said Keahi hadn’t played together since last year’s tournament.
“We kind of texted each other and decided to do it,” said the University of Hawaii at Hilo sophomore. “We’ve grown up with each other and it was pretty easy to find the rhythm again.
“It was just the out-of-shape-factor.”
Gearing up for Vulcans’ training camp in mid-August, Shiigi scored four goals in Keahi’s 4-0 run at Volcano. Dane Miyata scored three times, including once Sunday.
After Scott Hill was fouled in the penalty box in the first half, goalkeeper Cassidy Dixon dove to his left to deny Shiigi, but Miyata pounced on the rebound.
“This championship was all about my (teammates),” Shiigi said.
The Dragons carried possession and created numerous scoring opportunities in the first half. They put six of their 11 shots on frame, but were repeatedly thwarted by Keahi goalkeeper Katon Pestano.
“At halftime I asked them how many chances they wanted,” said Miranda, the Honokaa High boys coach. “I figured if we created 15 more chances we should win. I think we created 8-9 in the second half.”
Pestano, who spent only one season in goal for the Vikings, said he had to relearn the position during the team’s first game Friday. He finished with 10 saves and allowed four goals in four games.
“I was trying to work on positioning and it was slowly coming back,” he said. “This last game was my best game.”
The Dragons’ Clayton Robinson finally beat Pestano off Tony Connors’ set piece midway through the second half.
With under 10 minutes remaining, Miyata sent a corner kick to the center of the box, and Nakamura connected with a header.
“I thought both teams were dangerous,” Miranda said. “I thought we were a little impatient in the first half and put the ball in the air too much.”
Among the players to impress Miranda were Honokaa juniors Zechariah Ugalde and Kyle Ohta.
“They are really maturing,” Miranda said.