By MATT GERHART
Tribune-Herald sports writer
Kealakehe coach Urs Leuenberger counted one beautiful yet lucky goal for his team and one unfortunate score for Hilo. In his mind, the first half lacked creativity.
He wanted to see the Waveriders in attack mode, and even without his best player, he got what he was looking for thanks to two rushes from Scott Henderson at Hilo Bayfront.
Henderson broke open a tie game with a two-goal flurry Saturday as Kealakehe opened its season by beating Hilo 3-1 in a Big Island Interscholastic Federation Division I showdown.
“I definitely needed to step it up, and the team came up with me,” Henderson said. “I can’t carry the whole team; the team has to carry itself.”
That team he’s alluding to includes a developmental squad and a roster of 40 strong. The entire group didn’t make the trip to Hilo, but it helped those that did stay on their toes the past two weeks. The two-time defending league champion Waveriders were one of the last BIIF teams to kick off their season, but Leuenberger said Kealakehe held two competitive scrimmages during the past 10 days to stay crisp.
“Going against our own defense, which we feel is pretty good, helps us when we’re going against other teams,” Henderson said.
Henderson came through in a pinch as Kealakehe was missing it best player. Keoni Yates, last season’s league Player of the Year, is in Florida for a U.S. Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program.
Leuenberger said Yates was performing well at the showcase, calling his absence a win-win for all parties involved.
“It was good to play Hilo without Keoni, because next year we’re going to have to do that,” Leuenberger said. “I got a lot of feel on how that is going to work. It worked out perfectly.”
The match was tied at halftime thanks to a pair of goals on set pieces.
Laukoa Santos did his best impersonation of Yates, burying a straight-on free kick with perfect precision from about 35 yards out to give Kealakehe the lead in sixth minute. Less the five minutes later, Hilo’s Andrew Dawrs converted on a penalty kick after the Waveriders were called for a hand ball in the box.
“What I like about my team is how they waited until halftime for more instruction on what we needed to do,” Leuenberger said. “Scott executed very nicely on that.”
Early in the second half, Henderson took a pass from Joshua Lopez and cut into the box and chipped a ball over Vikings goalkeeper Kaulu Ontai.
“They earned that one,” first-year coach Cameron Castillo said after Hilo (2-1) suffered its first loss of the season.
A few minutes later, Henderson ran down a Kyle Nickelsen throughball and slotted a shot that Ontai got a hand on only to watch it trickle across the goal line.
“A lot of it was better communication and being where we needed to be,” Henderson said of Kealakahe’s improved attack in the final 40 minutes,
Goalkeeper Greyson Moore made a pair of nifty stops late in the match for Kealakehe.
One of Castillo’s primary messages each match is for his team to play with a sense of urgency and intensity. He saw a mixed bag Saturday.
“We had our moments. We would go in and out of the game,” he said. “It’s the inconsistency that comes with having a young team.”
Waiakea 7, Parker 0: Hajime Hayano and Michael Scott each scored twice as the host Warriors improved to 2-1.
Coleman Chaves, Tyler Kerr and Jamal Marshall added goals for Waiakea, and goalkeeper Chris Wung shut out the Bulls (0-4).
Honokaa 3, Ka’u 0: Sean Perala’s goal in the second half broke a scoreless tie and Seanry Agbayani and Jevin Dement tacked on goals as the Dragons (3-0) fought past a strong defensive effort by the visiting Trojans.
“Ka’u played really well and we missed a lot of shots,” coach Maurice Miranda said. “Credit Ka’u defensively.”
Elzer Maltezo and Halana Birch shared in the shutout of Ka’u (1-3).
Makua Lani 9, Hawaii Academy of Arts & Science 0: DJ Madigan opened the host Lions’ season in style by scoring five times.
Kalani Alapai and Will Bertsch each tallied two assists as Na Naia fell to 0-4.
Konawaena 9, Keaau 0: The Wildcats cruised at Keaau to improve to 2-0-1, but goal scorers were not available at press time.
The Cougars dropped to 1-2.
Christian Liberty at Kohala: The score was unavailable at press time.
Hilo 5, Kealakehe 1: Taylor Matas netted a hat trick as the Vikings bounced back from their worst loss in seven years by handling the Waveriders at Hilo Bayfront.
Shylia Bautista and Jasmine Smeraglia also scored for Hilo (2-1), which was coming off a 4-1 loss to Waiakea.
Mika Bettencourt found the back of the net for the Waveriders (0-1-1).
Keaau 0, Konawaena 0: Savannah Hester played well in goal as the Cougars (1-0-1) earned a draw against the defending BIIF Division I champion Wildcats (1-0-2).
“Konawaena had more scoring chances, but Savannah made some nice stops,” Keaau coach Richard Handy said. “It was a physical match.”
Honokaa def. Ka’u, forfeit: The Dragons remained unbeaten at 3-0 when the Trojans (0-3) didn’t have enough players to compete.
Christian Liberty at Kohola: The score was unavailable at press time.