In last year’s Division II boys soccer championship match, the Warrior boys lost on a late penalty kick.
This year, they won the state championship on a penalty kick.
Poetic justice? Perhaps.
“I thought about that. It’s just how the game goes. You never know what the course of events will be and what it will lead to,” said Kevin Cram, Kapaa High School varsity boys soccer head coach. “It kind of was an afterthought, thinking about the win and the loss on a penalty kick. But you look at the game as a whole as the important thing.”
Kapaa High School’s varsity boys soccer team won the Hawaii High School Athletic Association Division II boys soccer championship over the weekend on Oahu.
In the final match of the 2019 The Queen’s Medical Center Boys Soccer Championships–Division II state tournament on Saturday, Kapaa defeated Saint Louis School of the Interscholastic League of Honolulu, 1-0, at the Waipio Peninsula Soccer Complex main stadium.
“I think everybody was elated. It was a challenging match, and we weren’t able to get as many boys into the match as we would as we would have liked to,” Cram said. “But everybody felt a part of the team and participated in the joy of getting the win.”
Warriors junior midfielder La‘a Gonsalves converted that PK at the 51st minute.
“That was awesome,” said Warriors senior defender Kiran Costa. “The whole game, we were on our toes. I would say the last 10 minutes, five minutes were the longest. We were checking with the ref. ‘Ref, how much time?’ He gave us eight. Then we check back with him. We thought it was almost done, then we check back with him and we still had five minutes.
“We were squeezing, but the last final whistle, it was almost not real. It was crazy, but it was just a wonderful feeling. To see our supporters and teammates living in the moment and loving the moment, just seeing a bunch of proud families, it was sigh or relief that the game was over but also that we were champs and we’re bringing it home.”
This year’s state title is Kapaa High’s third, all with Cram as the head coach.
Other than a two-year hiatus to coach the school’s varsity girls soccer team, Cram has been the school’s varsity boys coach since 2006.
Kapaa previously won the Division II championship in 2009 and 2013.
“They’re all pleasing. It’s always enjoyable when we’re able to get to that point and win,” Cram said. “I don’t think having won it before diminishes any of the expectation or joy that comes from it.”
Prior to the final match, Kapaa — the No. 4 seed going into the tournament — defeated Seabury Hall of the Maui Interscholastic League in the quarterfinals, 2-1.
In the semifinals, Kapaa knocked off No. 1 seed and defending champion Kamehameha Schools-Hawaii of the Big Island Interscholastic Federation, 3-1.
Kapaa lost to KS-Hawaii in last year’s championship match, 3-2.
“Beating KS-Hawaii, we had that in us. That was something that sat with us throughout the year,” Costa said. “We kind of followed KS-Hawaii toward the end of our season, and we saw that they were most likely going to make it to the tournament. We wanted to get revenge for last year. It definitely was a sweet feeling.”
In the final match, Cram loaded up defensively and changed the formation from his usual 4-4-2 to 2-3-3-2 — particularly to dial in on Saint Louis senior forward Skyler Goo.
Goo is tied with KS-Hawaii’s Jonathan DeMotta for most goals scored in Division II with 23, according to ScoringLive.
“We knew we were going against the top scorer in the leagues. We knew we needed to stop him,” Cram said. “We felt that he was their go-to guy, and if we prevented him from getting a goal, we had a good opportunity to win.”
Five Warriors were named to the Division II All-Tournament Team chosen by the HHSAA and media: Costa, Gonsalves, senior forward Ryno Banasihan, sophomore forward Johnny Movaghar and senior goalkeeper Chysen Lagunes-Rapozo.
“In reality, it was a team effort. Everybody did their part wherever they were playing. If they were to choose five players, they could have chosen any five and I still would have been comfortable with those players on the all-tournament team,” Cram said. “Those who were chosen, it’s kudos to them for the efforts they made.”
Costa was also named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.
“I was really amazed. I was shocked. I was really speechless,” Costa said. “It wasn’t off of me. It took the whole team to make this happen, not just one player. I’m super grateful, but I believe it took the whole team to get there. I’m just super blessed and thankful for it.”
Cram said of Costa: “He’s one of our team captains and, of course, the team leader. The defense kind of surrounds him. He’s the one who anchors everything and makes things happen in front of him. He directs the defense, makes sure everybody is where they should be. His job is to clean up anything that happens to squeak through, and he did a great job of that during the season and especially during the tournament. I think it was fitting he got that reward.”
Kapaa ended its season with a 12-1-1 overall record — going 9-1-1 in the Kauai Interscholastic Federation regular season and 3-0 at states.
Info from Hawaii High School Athletic Association.
Nick Celario, sports writer, can be reached at 245-0437 or firstname.lastname@example.org.