War­riors end Hilo’s hex

Hawaii Tribune Herald - - SPORTS - By MATT GERHART

Wa­iakea chipped away at years of play­off mis­ery at the hands of Hilo for 70-odd min­utes, but the cli­matic snap­shot – the mo­ment the wall fi­nally be­gan to fall – in­cluded the flick of Gabriel Fra­zier-Jenkins’ foot, the roar of the crowd and the play call “tower.”

In War­riors’ par­lance, tower es­sen­tially means: we have a lead, let’s pro­tect it. It was a sweet word not heard around this boys soccer pro­gram in some time.

Fra­zier-Jenkins, a se­nior at risk of play­ing his fi­nal game on a team ripe with tal­ented un­der­class­men just get­ting started, put home the go-ahead goal Tues­day as the War­riors edged the Vik­ings 3-2 at Ken Ya­mase Sta­dium to ad­vance to the BIIF Di­vi­sion I cham­pi­onship match for the first time since 2012.

“This feels great,” Fra­zier-Jenkins said. “Ev­ery­thing I’ve worked for the past three years fi­nally came down to this.”

The War­riors (6-3-2) were elim­i­nated by Hilo (4-4-2) in each of the past four BIIF semi­fi­nals, and Fra­zier-Jenkins was on hand to see three of them: a golden goal de­feat in 2015, a blowout loss two years ago and a 3-1 set­back in 2017.

“It’s al­ways been a ri­valry, and no mat­ter how ei­ther of us do dur­ing the reg­u­lar sea­son, it al­ways come down to the semi­fi­nal at the the end of the sea­son,” said Fra­zier-Jenkins, who also gar­nered an as­sist on fresh­man Ri­ley Ta­manaha’s ty­ing goal ear­lier in the sec­ond half. “This is amaz­ing.”

Search­ing for their first ti­tle since 2006 and with a HHSAA tour­na­ment berth se­cure, Wa­iakea heads to Waimea on Satur­day af­ter­noon to take on un­de­feated Hawaii Prep, which blasted Kealakehe 10-1 at home in the other semi­fi­nal. This will the first time since 2007, when Makua Lani beat Kame­hameha for the ti­tle, that the Vik­ings and Waveriders will both miss out on the fi­nal.

Hilo twice held the lead. Lo­gan Mizuba opened the scor­ing on a penalty kick and Ri­ley Pat­ter­son’s won­der – a one-touch, one-blast rocket for a 2-1 lead with just one sec­ond re­main­ing in the first half – seem­ingly sent the Vik­ings to the break with all the mo­men­tum.

“Ri­ley Pat­ter­son is amaz­ing,” Wa­iakea coach David Urakami said.

Pat­ter­son also headed a ball just wide with the match tied 2-2, and on the en­su­ing se­quence se­nior Kolton Xie sent a through­ball that Fra­zier-Jenkins cor­ralled, drew the goal­keeper to his left, then buried a shot to the right.

“That’s the game of soccer,” Hilo coach George Ichi­maru said. “You at­tack and cre­ate good op­por­tu­ni­ties, and they turn around and go right back.”

For Wa­iakea, the semi­fi­nal played out much the way the reg­u­lar sea­son did. The War­riors un­der­went a re­vival be­cause of their un­der­class­men, but they couln’t have gone far with­out their se­niors, namely Fra­zier-Jenkins, Xie and Craig Oka­hara-Olsen.

“All year we’ve been say­ing we have this bumper crop of fresh­man, but the coaches have al­ways been preach­ing that we’re not go­ing to win a cham­pi­onship with fresh­man,” Urakami said, “so we’re re­ly­ing on our se­niors to lead us through and re­ally show them what to ex­pect and the tra­di­tion of be­ing at Wa­iakea.”

Sopho­more John Grover cre­ated Wa­iakea’s first goal, turn­ing quickly on a ball to lead the rush on a counter at­tack. A foul gave Wa­iakea a penalty kick, which Grover con­verted.

Grover, a co-cap­tain, Ta­manaha, sopho­more Kai Biegler and fresh­man Colby Kerr, Ethan Oka­hara-Olsen have been among Wa­iakea’s stead­i­est per­form­ers all sea­son.

“The fresh­man have put up ut­ter qual­ity this whole sea­son,” Fra­zier-Jenkins said. “They are go­ing places.

“All of them are bet­ter than I was as a fresh­man, so to know that Wa­iakea is build­ing and have peo­ple that I know I can trust is great.”

With Hilo pro­tect­ing a 2-1 lead, Pat­ter­son had a golden chance at an in­sur­ance goal after a Wa­iakea mis­play deep in its own zone, but the ju­nior sailed a shot over the cross­bar from point-blank range.

“That was a mis­take where we usu­ally pun­ish Wa­iakea,” Ichi­maru said, “but this year they pun­ished us with their op­por­tu­nity.”

After Hilo missed its first BIIF fi­nal and first HHSAA tour­na­ment berth since 2012 – the Vik­ings’ ti­tle drought ex­tends to 2011 – Ichi­maru said he hoped the set­back would strengthen his play­ers’ re­solve in the off­sea­son.

“We’ve got to do some­thing,” he said. “The com­pe­ti­tion is get­ting stronger and the chal­lenge is big­ger. We’ll see how much the play­ers are com­mit­ted.”

Wa­iakea’s coaches ex­pressed dis­ap­point­ment that Satur­day’s fi­nals were moved to Hawaii Prep – the BIIF made the an­nounce­ment Mon­day. Kon­awaena was sup­posed to host but Ju­lian Yates Field in Kealakekua was left in tat­ters after last Satur­day’s girls cham­pi­onship matches. The last time HPA hosted the fi­nals was 2011. Kame­hameha and Kealakehe have been re­cent sites of the ti­tle matches.

Be­yond not want­ing to play Ka Makani on their home field, Urakami said his team was look­ing for­ward to play­ing un­der the lights.

“Give the boys some­thing to re­mem­ber,” he said.

The D-I fi­nal is sched­uled to kick off at 3 p.m. as Wa­iakea tries to solve an HPA team it lost to twice in the reg­u­lar sea­son (6-3 at Wa­iakea, 4-0 at HPA).

“I feel like our or­ga­ni­za­tion def­i­nitely needs to im­prove if we want the chance to beat them,” Fra­zier-Jenkins said.

MATT GERHART/Tri­bune-Her­ald

Wa­iakea’s Gabriel Fra­zier-Jenkins jumps into the arms of John Grover on Tues­day after the War­riors beat Hilo 3-2.

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