Falcons deny Red Raiders, 3-0
Kalani's Brison Kim navigates the ball into Kahuku territory in an OIA East match Saturday afternoon. CJ Caraang | SL
KAHALA — Three different players scored second-half goals to propel Kalani to a 3-0 win over visiting Kahuku in an Oahu Interscholastic Association Eastern Division boys soccer game at the Falcons' home field Saturday afternoon.
The Falcons improved to 3-0 on the season to maintain sole possession of first place in the seven-team D1 East, while the Red Raiders suffered their first loss to fall to 1-1-1.
Kalani co-head coach Brandon Chun said the victory helped soothe the memory of a scoreless tie against the Red Raiders on the North Shore last season.
"I think it was a huge thing. I think that last year, being that all the games were so tight and close, we put a big emphasis on learning how to finish, learning how to crash the goal," Chun said. "For the players, just focusing on our playing our game, playing defense, holding a shut out — which they did successfully — and then the boys just really stepped up in the second half and just really crashing, and learning how to finish goals this year."
In their preparations leading up to the game, Chun said the Falcons' coaching staff stressed staying disciplined, especially in the defensive half against the speedy Red Raiders.
"They're filled with athletes, so that was the one thing that coming in, we knew they're fast, they're good athletes, so just one lapse in judgment and they can easily get a goal, so that was the main emphasis," Chun said.
The teams played to a scoreless first half. Kalani peppered the Kahuku defense with 14 shots in the first 40 minutes of play, but only three of them were on goal.
"As a coaching staff, we were actually pretty proud of the boys. We thought they played really well in the first half, executed the things that we wanted them to, we just couldn't finish, so I think the second half was more about just placing their shots and just finishing goals," Chun said.
The Falcons finally broke through seven minutes into the second half, when a Kahuku foul gave Kalani a direct free kick from about 25 yards out. Brison Kim booted a low, right-footed shot that bounced twice and go through a number of players in the box to find the bottom right corner of the goal.
Kim's goal — his first of the season — relieved some major tensions for Chun's squad.
"Definitely. I think the momentum and everything shifted with that," Chun said. "That first goal, I think, really opened up that second goal and the third goal. Especially for the boys, it just took off that pressure of that memory of the tie."
Just four minutes after Kim scored, Jason Strambu made it a two-score lead when scored from point blank on an assist from Noah Camacho.
Chun said his players did well to make better decisions on the chances they had in the second half, as opposed to the first.
"I think patience in the box, that was the one thing that we emphasized, too," Chun said. "In the first half, it just felt like some of the boys were just trying to get the hardest kick possible. (In the) second half, just having composure in the box, bringing the ball down, looking for an open teammate if its open, otherwise just place it, place the shot."
Kalani closed out the scoring with Minjae Kim's goal in the 72nd minute.
The Falcons largely controlled the possession, which was reflected in their out-shooting Kahuku, 28 to 8.
Kalani put eight shots on goal to the Red Raiders' six.
Sena Morimoto made six saves in goal for Kalani, while Laakea Naeole posted five stops for Kahuku.
The Falcons utilized more than 20 substitutions, while the Red Raiders made just two for the match.
Kahuku coach Robert Ah Puck said he had a handful of players out for various reasons, which left him with just three available reserves on the bench Saturday.
"It does take its toll, and we are playing with some injuries, but I don't want to make it sound like I'm making excuses. We just showed up short today," Ah Puck said. "We weren't able to get the balls where they needed to be. I think we were just playing a little bit more defensive than offensive, so we tried to switch that up in the second half but we still came up with nothing."
Kalani, which has yet to allow a goal this season, next plays Tuesday when it hosts Kalaheo at 4 p.m.
Kahuku will host Kaimuki at 7 p.m. Wednesday.