HANAPEPE — Kauai High School freshman Connor Mackenzie scored two goals Wednesday to lead the Red Raiders to a sweep over Waimea High School at the Kauai Interscholastic Federation boys soccer games contested at the Hanapepe Stadium.
Mackenzie scored the go-ahead goal during the junior varsity match where Kauai High School came from a 1-0 halftime deficit to beat the JV Menehune, 3-1, before an enthusiastic audience that celebrated Waimea’s senior night at the Westside stadium.
Justin Luis put Waimea JV on the board with a penalty kick in the 31st minute for the 1-0 bulge that was broken early into the second half when Daniel Leonard found the net in the 37th minute.
The stalemate was broken on Mackenzie’s goal in the 46th minute. A Mosiah Bautista goal at the 65th minute graced the 3-1 victory that came with yellow cards being issued to a pair of JV Raiders.
Following the victory, Mackenzie was upgraded to the varsity ranks to take the field in the intense, physical defensive-oriented slugfest that played out with no warning cards being issued.
Heading into the game, Waimea faced a must-win situation for the division title and Saturday’s KIF finale. The Menehune shared that same posture with both Kapaa High School and Island School who waged their campaign an hour earlier at Vidinha Stadium, and updates flowed through text lines among the strong home crowd.
“We don’t mind playing the spoiler,” said Kauai coach Martin Steinhaus following the JV win. “Somebody’s not going to make it, and we just want the boys to play well.”
Kauai took the field with the intent of checking key Waimea strikers including Kody Gardner, Shayden Duldulao and Ian Malabe.
Kauai worked through its roster that included Mackenzie donning jersey No. 16 as opposed to the No. 13 he had on for the JV game.
The teams battled through position changes and substitutions for an advantage, but the check and balancing prevailed through a 0-0 first-half stalemate.
A Waimea hiccup at the 60th minute mark saw Mackenzie, playing midfield, capitalize from about 30 yards out. The midfielder pulled the trigger on a line shot in heavy traffic.
The Waimea goalkeeper came out to defend on a lunging effort. The ball rolled just past the outstretched goalkeeper and into the net of the undefended goalmouth for the go-ahead.
Despite the strong encouragement from the home crowd, Kauai continued to wage its defensive stand and ran the clock on its 1-0 victory which eliminated Waimea from the title chase as Kapaa overtook the Voyagers 4-1 at Vidinha Stadium.
“We need to beat Island School Saturday,” said Jim Middlebrook, father of Kauai player Dodger Middlebrook who played heavily in defending the Menehune strikers in the first half. “We do it for pride.”
Waimea will face Kapaa on Saturday with the JV game starting at 10 a.m. followed by the varsity match going off at 11:45 a.m. at Vidinha Stadium. Island School will host Kauai High School in a single game starting at 10 a.m. at the Voyagers’ field in Puhi.