Konawaena coach Guy Miranda estimated that Jashea Leleiwi moved up and saw roughly 10 to 15 minutes of playing time at forward.
It was just enough to send the Wildcats girls soccer team to the holidays as a winner again.
Leleiwi scored the go-ahead goal Friday in a 2-1 victory over Kamehameha in a battle of Big Island Interscholastic Federation contenders at Keaau’s Paiea Field.
Junior Makani Wall scored early in the match for the Wildcats (6-1-1), who are unbeaten in seven straight since a season-opening loss to Kealakehe and sit atop the Division I standings.
All this from a young Konawaena squad that features 13 sophomores, including Leleiwi, and only two seniors.
“They’re coming along and everybody is slowly cranking,” Miranda said. “They’re slowly learning, and I’m slowly learning about them.
“I wouldn’t say major progress. We still need a lot of work, but all that matters is how you finish.”
Already down a striker, Miranda moved Leleiwi up top from her customary fullback for a bit to keep the Wildcats’ other forwards fresh. She promptly responded with her third goal of the season just before halftime.
“No credit goes to me,” Miranda said. “All the credit goes to the girls.”
Warriors junior Tiana Iwata scored her first goal of the season, knocking in senior Kera Akiyama’s free kick to tie the match at 1-1.
Division II Kamehameha (4-2) saw its four-game winning streak snapped, though it had some chances to net the equalizer late in the match.
Senior Tiffany Pacheco ran down Akiyama’s throughball on the left flank and put a shot on frame that freshman goalkeeper Taiana Tolleson was able to redirect over the crossbar. Tolleson, who shared goalkeeping duties with Kililani Kunitomo, then beat everyone to a loose ball on the subsequent corner kick.
As time expired, Akiyama’s shot from about 20 yards out went wide.
Konawaena owns a six-point lead in Division I, though the Wildcats have been the busiest among the contenders over the first three-plus weeks off the season. Kealakehe (4-0-1) has three games in hand on Kona, while Hilo (2-1-1) won’t play its fifth match until today against Kohala.
“It’s wide-open,” Miranda said. “We just need to calm down and come a little bit harder.”