By MATT GERHART
Tribune-Herald sports writer
Avery Hardie-Jordan pounced on the first mistake of the match, dribbled down the left flank and sent a cross to Keoni Yates for a wide-open shot and a quick Kealakehe lead.
Hilo kicked off again, but it wasn’t long before Hardie-Jordan raced toward another loose ball for a better look and an even quicker two-goal advantage.
The high noon kickoff for Saturday’s marquee matchup between Hilo and Kealakehe began earlier than scheduled. Those who were late — or even blinked, for that matter — still saw a well-played match, but they missed the most decisive part.
“A good start, but we knew it wasn’t going to be that easy of a game,” Hardie-Jordan said.
It wasn’t, but the Waveriders’ opening two-minute blitz at Hilo Bayfront was all they would need for a 3-1 victory and sole possession of first place in the Big Island Interscholastic Federation Division I boys soccer standings.
Hardie-Jordan and coach Urs Leuenberger said Kealakehe (4-0) was calm yet focused as it gathered before 7 a.m. in Kailua-Kona for the bus ride over to Hilo for one of its biggest matches of the regular season. The defending champion Waveriders left in the drivers’ seat in the race for the top seed at BIIFs, and the accompanying automatic berth at the Hawaii High School Athletic Association tournament.
That’s not a talking point for Leuenberger, however.
“It’s too early, there are so many good teams out there. It’s way too early,” he said.
And it would be a major surprise if these two teams didn’t meet again in the BIIF final.
“We’ll see them again and get revenge,” first-year Hilo coach Buddy Betts said.
He had forewarned the Vikings about the playmaking potential of Hardie-Jordan and Yates, but Hilo just didn’t meet the challenge early on, particularly against Hardie-Jordan, a senior striker who flashed his speed and size in the opening two minutes.
He assisted on Yates’ second goal of the season. Shorty thereafter, a Hilo clearing attempt bounced off Kealakehe’s Scott Henderson toward the Vikings’ goal. After Hardie-Jordan beat goalkeeper Katon Pestano to the ball for his team-high seventh score, Kealakehe’s players had to tell themselves to play as if the match was still tied.
“We knew it was going to end up being difficult and that they were going to come back,” said Hardie-Jordan, also mindful that the encounter likely was not the last between the two this season. “This will give us a lot of confidence, but we’re still going to have to work super hard for it.”
In matchup of heavyweights, Hilo (3-1) was stunned early, but it wasn’t floored. The Vikings huddled and regrouped, and it was game on after senior Justin Shiigi cut the lead to 2-1 in the ninth minute with a perfectly placed shot from 20 yards out into the upper left-hand corner of the net.
“We really wanted to go and dominate right off the bat and obviously the goals cemented that,” Leuenberger said. “Hilo came on strong as far as possessing the ball. In the second half, we went back to possessing the ball. Just better conditioning paid off. We were able to keep them under pressure and come away with the third goal.”
That came courtesy of junior Ariel Lima. After a corner kick midway through the second half, the Brazilian exchange student played a pass with his chest, turned around and slammed it in with his left foot from about 12 yards out for his second goal of the season.
Betts’ team has made slow starts a habit this season, but this time it couldn’t recover.
“I don’t know what it is, but it’s happened almost every game,” he said. “We pretty much dictated a lot of the game, but you have to come to play.
“We’ll learn from it and come back stronger.”
Hawaii Prep 6, Waiakea 3: Freshman Trenton Wise netted two goals at St. Joseph, and senior Kepa Police scored his fifth goal for Ka Makani, which gave up its first three goals of the season but remained unbeaten at 4-0.
Senior Keisuke Ohtaka and junior Jack Austin both scored their second goals, and freshman Dylan Ryan tallied HPA’s other goal.
Hajime Hayano scored all three goals for Waiakea (0-5).
Makua Lani 4, Hawaii Academy of Arts & Science 0: Senior Elijah Lingenfelder collected his sixth and seventh goals of the season, and Aidan Alcos scored his second in Pahoa as the Lions improved to 3-2.
Kalani Alapai had an assist, and sophomore Josh Kuperus blanked Na Naia (0-5) in goal.
Makua Lani also benefited from an own goal.
Konawaena 9, Ka’u 1: J.G. Replogle scored three goals at Julian Yates field, collecting his third hat trick and giving him 12 goals for the season.
Sergio Garcia, Michael Guzman, Ivan Rodriguez, Bailey Hanato, Kai Dunston and Jarry Sutherland each had one goal for the Wildcats, who improved to 3-1.
David Pillette found the net for the Trojans (1-3).
Kamehameha 6, Kohala 1: Kawika Finley scored twice, and the visiting Warriors also got goals from Colton Hill, David Lopez, Calden Kaeo, and Bram Paikulu.
Dakota Tolentino scored for the Cowboys.
Kealakehe 0, Hilo 0: Minus two of their top scorers, Waveriders coach Jim Smith figured that generating offense would be an issue.
Kealakehe couldn’t score, but it didn’t have to in order to get what it needed in holding down the host Vikings to earn a key point in the BIIF Division I standings.
Short-handed Kealakehe (4-0-1), which has already beaten Konawaena, another D-I contender, had a draw on its mind when it made the trip over early Saturday morning.
“This is what I was shooting for today,” Smith said. “Didn’t want to lose and thought winning was hard since we didn’t have a lot of offense.”
The defending champion Waveriders, who haven’t lost a BIIF match since falling to Hilo in the 2011 final, were playing without leading scorer Lexie Cuaresma, who was on vacation. Meanwhile, Kari Van Mols, the team’s leading scorer last year, suffered a knee injury in the preseason and had season-ending surgery last week.
Hilo (1-1-1) had plenty of scoring opportunities, most of them created by junior Taylor Matas and senior Rose Nakamura, but the Vikings couldn’t quite captialize.
“You get excited when everything is right there,” Vikings coach Paul Bello said. “We possessed, but we couldn’t finish it. We had all the chances.”
Kealakehe goalkeeper Sully Schuster made her best save when she dove to get an arm on a Nakamura shot ticketed for the left corner in the second half.
Hilo goalkeeper Edwina DeGrood made four saves, two on Kealakehe’s Ana Tuppein.
“We never gave up even though it seemed we were on the downside of things,” said Smith, who lauded the play of sweeper Caili Ebaniz as well as inside midfielders Jade Richmond and Kaili’i Smith.
Hawaii Prep 6, Waiakea 1: Senior Emily Evans scored her third and fourth goals of the season, and junior Nanea Tavares added her fifth at St. Joseph for Hawaii Prep, which led 3-0 at halftime.
Sophomore Bri Vallente and Ella Kotner both tallied their second goals, and Jahnae Purdy scored her first.”
“I thought we did a good job throughout today being patient and moving the ball around,’’ HPA coach Steve Perry said. “Emily Evans and Gabbie Ewing did a great job in the middle with their field coverage and distribution.
“We had many girls step up and play wherever we needed them today. Very unselfish.”
Honokaa 10, Christian Liberty 1: Senior Monica Carlos scored her fourth and fifth goals of the season, while Allie Shiraki and Kelly Greenwell also scored twice as the visiting Dragons improved to 2-1.
Tia Agdeppa, Daisha Acorda, Hia Kapu and Moana Odell each scored once for Honokaa.
Joy Rimel found the back of the net for the Canefire (0-5).
Kamehameha 9, Kohala 0: Kera Akiyama’s hat trick led the visiting Warriors.
Tiffany Pacheco added two goals, and Codi Kuali’i, Harper Hottendorf, Sara DuVoisin and Kalehua Hayashida added a goal each.
Lehua McGuire and Elizabeth Kia shared the shutout in goal.
Konawaena 9, Ka’u 0: Senior Ua Ruedy and sophomores Kaulana Ruedy and Chloe Delaney each scored twice at Julian Yates Field at the Wildcats (5-1) moved to the top of the BIIF Division I standings.
Kaulana Ruedy has scored 10 goals this season, and Ua Ruedy has seven.
Senior Saxon Nagata added her sixth goal, while junior Makani Wall and sophomore Shayli Nakamoto also found the back of the net for Konawaena.
Goalkeepers Taiana Tolleson and Kili Kunitomo combined to blank the Trojans (0-3).