By JOE FERRARO
Avery Hardie-Jordan stands 6 feet, 2 inches tall. Connor Keale and Jason Kuwada are 6-0.
With so much size on its boys soccer team, Kealakehe midfielder Keoni Yates said scoring off set plays isn’t a goal but an expectation for the Waveriders.
Kealakehe certainly met those expectations Friday at Waverider Stadium, scoring twice off corner kicks and once off a throw-in on the way to a 4-2 win over Christian Liberty in a Big Island Interscholastic Federation soccer match between undefeated teams.
The Waveriders’ goals off set plays came over the first 21 minutes.
“We have the size with Avery and Connor,” said Yates, who began the scoring by heading in his third goal of the season off Logan Whitney’s corner kick in the 10th minute. “We like to attack the goal, and we feel it’s one of our strong points.”
Hardie-Jordan, who made it 4-0 in the 23rd minute by taking a pass from Yates and drilling in his team-high 10th goal, quickly credited the players responsible for creating scoring chances in the box.
“We have a lot of players who (can deliver) far throw-ins and good corner kicks,” the senior said.
One of them, Yates, delivered a throw-in into the box that Christian Liberty goalkeeper Keanu Bergfeld deflected, but Keale corralled the rebound and tucked the ball into the net for a 2-0 lead in the 19th minute.
Kuwada extended the lead two minutes later, hammering home a penalty kick after officials called a handball in the penalty box on a corner kick from Nick Joersz.
Bergfeld did well to keep Kealakehe (6-0) off the scoreboard early, aggressively pouncing on throughballs in the middle of the field with Waverider forwards charging at him.
After Yates’ first goal, Kealakehe bossed possession, outshooting the Canefire 13-4 in the first half.
Christian Liberty (5-1) played its first five matches on muddy tracks, and Canefire coach Troy Rimel said it took a while for his team to adjust to Kealakehe’s fast pace.
“We couldn’t play at the speed that Kealakehe played at today,” Rimel said.
Freshman goalkeeper Greyson Moore wasn’t tested in the first half. Nakaiya Kerr, Sequoya Kerr, Louis Moylan and Keanu Freitas had their moments operating around the box. However, Keale and Kuwada kept any dangerous scoring chances from materializing, clearing several crosses and throughballs in front of Moore.
Christian Liberty raised its level of play in the second half, outshooting Kealakehe 8-4.
Moore, who finished with two saves, dove to his right to make a save on Nakaiya Kerr’s point-blank shot in the 58th minute, but Kerr beat him for his league-high 16th goal in the 70th minute on a shot from 15 yards that pulled the Canefire within 4-2.
Seven minutes earlier, Sequoya Kerr found the back of the net on a penalty kick.
“We felt that was a victory,” Rimel said of his team’s performance in the second half.
On the other side of the coin, Urs Leuenberger found areas of improvement for Kealakehe.
“In the second half, we let up, and we exposed some of our weaknesses,” Leuenberger said. “Our conditioning is not quite 100 percent.
“We’ll have to work on conditioning and how to defend the lead.”