The HHSAA Division I Boys’ Soccer Championships was a case of highs and lows for ʻIolani’s boys soccer team. What started off with an upset over top-seeded, twice-reigning state champions, Hawaii Preparatory Academy (HPA), ended in a crushing 1-0 loss against ILH Champions Punahou.
Looking first at the highs, ‘Iolani made use of a quick passing game and strong defense against HPA, notching a 2-1 victory in the quarterfinals. The Raiders got off to a fast start with Lincoln Oishi ’19 heading in an assist from Jonah Kawamura ’21 in the first minute. The lead was doubled when Tyler Udarbe ’19 put away the evening’s second goal after a quick interplay between the Raiders’ attacking unit. Hawaii Prep’s Jake Schneider ’19 pulled one back for his team in the 64th minute, but that the was the closest they would get as a bevy of exceptional saves from ‘Iolani goalkeeper Isaak Tanaka ’22 preserved a slim lead. Schneider, the focal point of a potent HPA attack, left the match minutes later after receiving a red card for arguing with an official. A frenzied final stretch concluded with ‘Iolani unscathed, and with a bid to continue their run toward an elusive state championship.
Next was a furious comeback over OIA champions Kapolei in the semifinal round. A trying first half ended with the Hurricanes holding a 1-0 lead, a slim deficit preserved by numerous acrobatic and timely saves from Tanaka. The Raiders, set wrestled the advantage away with two goals off of direct kicks from Oishi. The defender displayed a deft touch, sending home a pair of balls in the midst of a heavy scrum. A near equalizer for Kapolei came inches from the goal were it not for a desperation clearance by Jacob Lee ’20. Lee. The Raider back-line proved a strong unit managing to hold the precious advantage throughout. Despite a late goal by Kapolei, ʻIolani punched their ticket to a state final match with rival Punahou after Waiola Manuel ’21 managed to score the game winning goal, 3-2.
Regrettably for the Raiders, a hard-fought contest did not turn out the way they had hoped in the final game. Deadlocked after 80 minutes of back and forth action, Punahou’s Max Moonier ’19 sent a rocket blazing just outside the reach of ʻIolani keeper Tanaka to seal a score of 1-0 with three minute left. Time ran out, and so did the Raider’s hopes of overcoming the odds to take home a state title.
Despite a phenomenal tournament which showcased a bright future for the team’s last line of defense, a misplaced clearance leading to a clear shot proved too much in that crucial moment. “The fans were treated to a really exciting game,” Raider coach Chris Lee said. “Both teams did not give in and neither team was dominating the whole game. Punahou is a great team and a great program, and we know that every time we step on the field to play them, it will always be a good game.” Now, with the tournament over and Punahou named the 2018-2019 HHSAA State Champions, the Raider Nation can only be thankful for the hard work the players put in to overcome all the odds and make it to the finals.