By J.R. De GROOTE
Stephens Media Hawaii
At halftime, Hawaii Prep’s Jack Austin realized it was now or never.
The time was decidedly now for Austin and Ka Makani — and for their Big Island brethren at the Hawaii High School Athletic Association Division II soccer tournament.
Kharim Barthson scored in extra time setting up Kama Hurwitz’s game-winner in double overtime Thursday as HPA topped Leileihua to reach the semifinals at Oahu’s Waipio Peninsula Soccer Complex.
“I think we slowly have started to believe in ourselves,” said HPA head coach Rich Braithwaite. “Our seniors in leadership and energy have stepped up and made the difference for us in the postseason.”
The same could be said of other Big Island Interscholastic Federation teams. Honokaa and Christian Liberty also won quarterfinal matches and will meet at 1 p.m. today in the semifinals, ensuring the BIIF at least one representative in the 5 p.m. final on Saturday.
Ka Makani (11-3-3), the BIIF champions, play Mid-Pacific (5-4-4) in the 3 p.m. semifinal today.
Demar Stewart netted a hat trick for Leilehua (5-7), including two to HPA into a 2-0 hole at halftime.
Austin, a senior captain, had not played since midseason, because of a nagging hamstring injury, but he approached Braithwaite with his team’s season on the line and asked to enter the game.
“A hamstring injury is not the type of thing you can gut though. He had to sit because it was simply not a possibility for him to run,” Braithwaite said. “At the half he told me “It’s now or never, Coach,” and we put him in.”
Austin was a force in the midfield, winning nearly every ball that came his way, and threading through passes to the speedy Ka Makani forwards.
“His presence lit a huge fire under us,” Braithwaite said.
HPA tied the game on goals by Hurwitz and Brendan Moynahan, but Steward third goal gave the Mules the lead again.
In extra time, Ka Makani dumped the ball into the Leilehua end and multiple players from each team swarmed the ball. The ball just squeaked through to the foot of Barthson, and the senior forward buried a shot into the top shelf, tying the game.
“The referee had his whistle in his mouth. We were wondering the what the stoppage time and it ended up being a good five minutes,” Braithwaite said. “Kharim really helped us. He is a confident player, but I think it has been just in this last month that he has really bought in.”
In the second overtime, Justin Perry spotted a streaking Hurwitz and headed over a perfectly timed ball that Hurwitz nailed for the win.
“It was something we had worked on in practice a bit,” Braithwaite said. “Justin is very good in the air and Kama timed it perfectly. Kama just drilled it home from 5 or 6 yards out.”
Mid-Pac beat Seabury Hall in the quarterfinals, 1-0 after many rounds of penalty kicks.
“Mid-Pac knows what its like — they have been in this position,” Braithwaite said. “None of the guys on our teams have been here. What is important for us is staying composed and keeping our structure. I feel we have more dangerous forwards and a great midfield. Getting rid of jitters and being able to get into the game. It’s going to be one of those battles.”
Honokaa 1, Kapaa 0: Jevin Dement scored in the 78th minute as the Dragons reached the semifinals for the fourth time in five seasons.
Honokaa coach Maurice Miranda likes to call Dement “Gumby.”
“He’s got size, but he’s agile and hard to knock off the ball,” Miranda said.
Those attributes came in handy for Dement late the match against the top-seeded Warriors (11-2) when he gathered a ball and was able to keep it at his chest, depositing it into the net on the near side.
Miranda credited the defensive efforts of Gavin Laird, Aukanai Kapu and Chance Salva with helping to keep Kapaa from getting any real good scoring chances in close against goalkeeper Elzer Maltezo.
However, Miranda said midfielder Tony Connors was the best player on the field for Honokaa (10-3-3), the BIIF’s third-place team.
“Tony put the team on his back,” Miranda said.
Christian Liberty 4, Roosevelt 2: Louis Moylan scored twice and Sequoya Kerr netted the go-ahead goal as the Canefire (12-4) rebounded from a tough loss in the BIIF title game.
Christian Liberty coach Troy Rimel said his team was able to slowly recover earlier in the week after missing on myriad scoring opportunities and losing to HPA 1-0 on Saturday for its third straight runner-up finish.
“The goal was to beat Roosevelt and get to the main stadium and play two games,” Rimel said.
The first of those two contests comes at 1 p.m. today against Honokaa, which beat the Canefire 3-1 during the regular season.
“We’re pretty excited,” Rimel said. “(Coach Miranda) was joking that we have a date tomorrow. He tried to tell me the game was at 4 p.m.”
On Thursday, prolific scorer Nakaiya Kerr dropped back from forward to midfield against the No. 4 Rough Riders (7-6), recording a goal and three assists for the Canefire, whose highest finish at states was third place in 2012.
Kamehameha-Maui 3, Kealakehe 1: The Warriors scored three unanswered goals, getting a go-ahead goal from Brennan Joaquin in the 67th minute, to hand the BIIF champion Waveriders their first loss.
Kealakehe (14-1-1) struck first with a goal by sophomore Joshua Lopez in the eight minute. The Waveriders face Kalani at 3 p.m. today in consolation play.
Unseeded Kamehameha-Maui (11-0-3) advances to play top-seeded Iolani in the semifinals at 5 p.m. today.
Hilo 2, Pearl City 0: Nikolai Shumov scored twice within a three-minute span midway through the second half as Vikings rebounded from a 3-0 loss to Kapolei in the opening round to reach the seventh-place game.
BIIF runner-up Hilo (13-1) wraps up its time on Oahu with a game against Mililani at 3 p.m. Saturday.