By MATT GERHART
Tribune-Herald sports writer
KEAAU — Nanea Tavares played forward as an underclassman and has found a home at midfield the past two seasons.
When she’s running full stride and at her best, she does a little of both.
Attacking the flanks with regularity, Tavares set up two goals with crosses Friday to highlight Hawaii Prep’s 3-0 victory against Kamehameha in a Big Island Interschoalstic Federation girls soccer match.
“She does great overlaps,” Hawaii Prep coach Steve Perry said. “On a couple of the goals she’s doing an overlap into the corner from the midfield. She’s not a forward, but she’s overlapping and that frees her up. She just us gives a lot of flexibility and athleticism, of course, and her work rate in practice is outstanding and rubbing off.”
Ka Makani (3-0) came to Paiea Field looking for their first test of the season against the team they’ve beaten in the BIIF Divsion II finals the past two years. Instead, the four-time defending league champions appeared to have widened the gap. Gabbie Ewing, Emma Taylor and Bri Vallente scored goals as HPA took advantage of the wide field turf at Kamehameha.
“We want to play ball-control, and it’s a great field to pass on,” Perry said. “Sure, we have some speed up top, and that helps being able to play the ball wide. Our midfielders are talented and if we can get it out to them we do some good things.”
Tavares has done that throughout her career, but in different ways. Primarily a goal-scorer her first two seasons at forward, she’s transformed herself into a playmaker on the outside.
“This year, I feel it’s better for the team if I give the crosses,” Tavares said. “Our forwards definitely finished this game.”
Coming off TKO victories in its first two matches of the season, HPA has outscored its opponents by a combined 22-0.
Tavares said it took some time for Ka Makani to adjust to the slick surface Friday, but HPA got the quick start it was looking for in the third minute when Ewing scored her fourth goal of the season off an assist by Marlie Mandaguit.
Tavares had a hand in the next two scores. In the 20th minute, she picked up a head of steam down the left side and set up Taylor for a wide-open look with a nifty pass. On a similar play in the second half, Tavares connected with Vallente, who scored her third goal of the season. Teia Knoll also was credited with an assist on the play.
“It was hard at first because we’re not used to playing on turf,” Tavares said. “Once we got the gist of things, we started playing better as a team and communicated well.”
Taylor, the reigning Hawaii High School Athletic Association champion in the 100-meter hurdles, gives Ka Makani another fleet-footed offensive option. Taylor was Ka Makani’s backup goalkeeper last season, but the sophomore has scored in each match this season.
“She puts a lot of pressure on the defense,” Perry said.
Goalkeeper Morgan Monahan’s best save came when she punched away a shot from Kamehameha’s Tiana Iwata early in the second half.
Coming off a 5-1 loss to defending BIIF Division I champion Konawaena, the Warriors (1-2) have lost two straight.
HPA 1, Kamehameha 1: Freshman Braden Kojima scored in the final five minutes as visiting Ka Makani (2-0-1) secured a draw.
Logan Uyetake had given the Warriors (1-0-2) the lead with a goal with about 15 minutes remaining.