By KEVIN JAKAHI
Tribune-Herald sports writer
Senior goalie Edwina DeGrood and the rest of her Hilo teammates didn’t get a win, but still felt good about themselves because they played the type of soccer that shines on championship teams.
Sparked by their senior day, the Vikings relied on energy and teamwork to tie Hawaii Prep 2-2 in a girls Big Island Interscholastic Federation match on Saturday at Hilo Bayfront.
Even losing a 2-1 lead with 18 minutes left couldn’t damper the mood for the Vikings (5-2-2), who will likely hit the road for the BIIF Division I semifinals, which will be held Jan. 30.
The Ka Makani (7-0-2) tied it on a free kick just outside of the 18-yard penalty box by Emily Evans, who hooked a shot over a Hilo wall and out of DeGrood’s reach.
“I’m really excited. That was the best we’ve played all season for a first half,” DeGrood said. “The first half was amazing. If we could play exactly like that for the whole game we would walk off the field with a smile, and we did.”
The Vikings came out firing. Within the first five minutes, Camille Martinez, Taylor Pacheco and Carmen Garson-Shumay each put a good shot on goal, but came up empty.
Then it was HPA’s turn, a chance when the ball switched fields to show the strength of its disciplined attack, making short passes, finding open space and creating scoring opportunities when defenders lose track of their coverage.
Gabbie Ewing shook free, found the ball at her feet from point-blank range, and drilled a bullet that sneaked in for a 1-0 lead at the 18-minute mark.
But Hilo kept poking at HPA’s defense, pressuring the ball and eventually the home team’s speed down the sidelines produced a pair of goals.
With six minutes before halftime, Mehana Sabado-Halpern tied it when she outraced her defender down the flank, and scored.
In the second half, Rose Nakamura did the same, at the 62-minute mark, blasting a timely shot before the defense could collapse on her.
“It was well-played by both teams,” Hilo coach Paul Bello said. “I’m proud of our girls. They came to play. HPA’s a good team. We wanted to secure the middle. They can play on the outside, too, and have got fast wings.
“We had a solid defense. It was definitely a team effort. Lii Maertens played a great game at sweeper, Savannah (Toussaint-Adviento) and Tori (Teanio) at fullback. Kiani (Teanio) and Delcee Ramos shared time at stopper.”
Bello was also pleased that his offense put a few dents into HPA, the gold standard among Division II teams in the league. The three-time BIIF defending champion Ka Makani have reached states the last six seasons, including a runner-up finish last year.
“That was a long time coming. It was nice to get two goals against a good team,” Bello said. “We try to stress to the girls that we have to score goals against quality teams. If we can do that we can play with anybody.”
HPA tied it on a set piece and didn’t make a really serious charge until there was five minutes left when Ewing absolutely ripped a shot at DeGrood, who used two hands to deflect the ball over the crossbar.
“It was a good battle,” HPA coach Steve Perry said. “We played the 20 minutes in the beginning well. We didn’t play our game until there was 10 minutes left. Hilo played hard and tough and battled.”
The Viks went to states from 2009 to ’11 as the BIIF champion. They stayed home last season after losing to Kealakehe 2-1 in double overtime in the BIIF semifinals.
As one of four seniors, the others are Nakamura, Pacheco and Kiana Heaukulani, DeGrood wants to go back in her last season. Hilo will likely face the Waveriders again in the playoffs.
“I’m confident if we play exactly like how we did today for the rest of the season, we’ll be at states,” she said.
HPA can clinch the top seed at BIIFs and an automatic berth at the state tournament with a victory in either of its final two regular-season matches. The Ka Makani host Kealakehe on Wednesday and Christian Liberty on Saturday.
Kamehameha 2, Honokaa 1: Junior Harper Hottendorf ran onto a well-placed throughball from junior Tiana Iwata late in the second half and scored the go-ahead goal in Keaau as the host Warriors (7-2) erased a 1-0 halftime deficit to keep pace with HPA in the BIIF Division II standings.
Honokaa senior Monica Carlos had given the Dragons (5-3-1) the lead in the first half by hammering home a free kick for her 11th goal of the season.
“I told the girls they need to dig deep if they want this,” Kamehameha coach Sonya Ah Chong said.
Midway through the second half, senior Tiffany Pacheco scored her fourth goal on a brilliant header off freshman Bryana-Marie Ebers’ corner kick, setting up Hottendorf’s sixth goal of the season.
Konawaena 3, Keaau 0: Sophomore Kaulana Ruedy scored her team-high 13th goal of the season at Julian Yates Field as the Wildcats ended their regular season on a four-match winning streak.
Junior Makani Wall added her fifth goal, and sophomore Shayli Nakamoto buried her third for Konawaena (9-1-1), which can win the BIIF Division I regular-season title and claim an automatic berth in the Hawaii High School Athletic Association Division I tournament if Kealakehe loses one of its two remaining matches.
Wildcats goalkeeper Taiana Tolleson blanked the Cougars (3-6).
Kealakehe 8, Ka’u 0: Sophomore Lexie Cuaresma collected her 10th and 11th goals of the season, and sophomore Kiana Fudala also scored twice in Pahala as the Waveriders improved to 7-0-2.
Juniors Mika Bettencourt, Kailii Smith, Sophia Benacquista and Gabby Cifuentes each scored one goal for Kealakehe, which can win the BIIF Division I regular-season title and an automatic berth in the HHSAA Division I tournament with a road win over HPA on Wednesday and a home win against Kamehameha on Jan. 19.
Junior goalkeeper Sulley Schuster blanked the Trojans (1-8).
Makua Lani 8, Christian Liberty 0: Senior Tiffany Nakamura tallied four goals at Hilo Bayfront, giving her 15 for the season as the Lions (3-7) all but locked up the fourth and final berth in the BIIF Division II tournament.
With just one game left on its schedule, Makua Lani (nine points) has a six-point lead over Ka’u and Kohala, who each have three points.
Lions sophomore Keili Dorn scored her third and fourth goals of the season, junior Amanda Madigan added her second, and freshman Hannah Shimizu bagged her first.
Makua Lani goalkeepers Lydia Wood and Karissa Komo combined to blank the Canefire (1-8) in goal.
HPA 2, Hilo 0: Kepa Police scored twice for the Ka Makani (10-0), racking up his total to 23 goals on the season.
Ka Makani goalie Trent Wise got the shutout against the Vikings (5-3-2).
“It was well-played by both sides and both teams had a lot of opportunities,” HPA coach Richard Braithwaite said. “Both keepers (Hilo’s Katon Pestano) made huge saves. The difference was Kepa beat a couple of defenders a couple of times and knocked goals home.
“Beating Hilo is a good result, and we are super excited to play Kealakehe on Wednesday.”
With the Vikings’ loss, the Waveriders (9-0) clinched the top seed in the BIIF Division I tournament and an automatic berth at states. Winless in its past four matches, Hilo is locked into the No. 2 seed at BIIFs.
Honokaa 1, Kamehameha 1: Ikaika Villanueva’s first goal of the season in the second half evened the match and earned the host Warriors (3-4-3) a point in the BIIF Division II standings.
Tony Connors had given the two-time defending champion state champion Dragons (7-1-1) the lead earlier in the half with his first goal of the season.
Makua Lani 2, Christian Liberty 2: Senior Elijah Lingenfelder capped the scoring with his team-high 14th goal of the season in the 75th minute as the Lions rallied from a 2-0 deficit to earn a draw.
Four minutes earlier, Pono Ng scored his 10th goal for Makua Lani (6-4-1).
The Canefire (8-1-1), playing without two starters, bolted out in front in the fourth minute when senior defender Tim Jittu headed in a Louis Moylan corner kick for his second goal of the season.
Jittu returned the favor five minutes into the second half, delivering a throughball Moylan ran onto and deposited into the net for his 14th goal.
Parker 4, Waiakea 3: Senior Paul Gregg scored his seventh and eighth goals of the season in Waimea for the Bulls, who currently hold the sixth and final spot in the BIIF Division II tournament.
Senior Tyler McCullough added his fourth goal of the season, while junior Marlon Lampur scored his first for Parker (4-5-2), which has 14 points — three more than seventh-place Kamehameha-Hawaii.
Hajime Hayano collected his eighth goal of the season for the Warriors (2-9), while Matt Otani and Dyson Sato scored their second and first goals, respectively.
Kealakehe 9, Ka’u 0: Senior Avery Hardie-Jordan bagged his team-high 15th goal, and junior Keoni Yates scored for the ninth time in his team’s past six games as the Waveriders rolled in Pahala.
Senior Jason Kuwada, junior Ariel Lima, sophomore Marc Takahashi, and freshmen Kyle Nickelsen, Jonah Palakiko, Greyson Moore and Michael Von Rumohr also found the back of the net for Kealakehe (9-0).
Moore shut out the Trojans (2-9) in goal.
Kohala 3, Hawaii Academy of Arts & Science 2: Senior Derek Moreno scored his second goal of the season while senior Rysen Bell and junior Joshua Rodrigues-Berdon also found the back of the net in Kapaau as the Cowboys (1-10) earned their first victory of the season.
The home team of Kohala could not identify the goal-scorers for Na Naia (0-11).
Konawaena 4, Keaau 1: Gerardo Meneses collected his fourth and fifth goals of the season at Julian Yates Field for the Wildcats, who led 4-0 at halftime.
Gabriel Magana and Bailey Hanato both scored their second goals for Konawaena (6-3-1).
Ivan Akana scored his first goal of the season for the Cougars (3-6-2).