Thu. Feb 22nd, 2024

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii — Pearl City equalized in the opening moments of the second half and threatened to make Kailua the fourth Oahu Interscholastic Association East Division team knocked out by a West team in the league’s Division I boys soccer quarterfinals on Tuesday night.

Surfriders captain Brody Person would not allow it.

Person scored the go-ahead goal on a far-post strike from the right of the box in the 64th minute as Kailua topped Pearl City, 3-1, at Radford to advance to Thursday’s semifinal against Campbell at Kapolei.

Mililani (5-0 over Moanalua), Kapolei (5-1 over Kalani) and Campbell (4-0 over Kaiser) routed their East opponents to reach the semis. But Kailua, the East’s top seed, had an answer when things got tight. Two minutes after Person’s strike, another captain, Kai Fraser, struck on an attacking run from the left and the Surfriders controlled play the remaining 16 minutes to seize the win.

Beyond keeping hopes alive for Kailua’s first Division I league championship, the victory was big in another sense as it clinched a state berth.

Kailua coach Joseph Wood told his players it is up to them to realize their championship potential. After the season opener against Castle in which the Surfriders felt they dominated only to lose 1-0, the message took hold; Kailua (8-1-2) hasn’t lost since.

“Pearl City is one heck of a team … a number of great players on that team and they’re well coached,” Wood said. “But my boys, they’ve worked their butts off and they continue to work and continue to grind.”

None more so than Person, a junior who missed nearly all of last season with a hamstring injury.

“It just means so much to play again,” Person said. “The goals, I don’t really care too much about the goals. It’s just to play again.”

Said Wood, “Words can’t express how much Brody means to this team. … This year he came in, we were a little worried because he was nursing (the injury) still, but that boy, he’ll do whatever you ask. He really is a coach’s dream. So selfless, and thankful we have him on our team.”

It was a de facto home game for the Surfriders, whose field was unavailable for a night playoff game due to lighting and other issues. But Kailua got to choose the site; Radford’s grass field felt closest to home.

“A little bit,” Person said. “The field was super bumpy, kind of like how it is at Kailua. Us as a team, we didn’t notice it too much.”

Connor Reece struck first for Kailua in the 14th minute. Pearl City’s Katin Oh equalized in the 41st.

Kailua has three OIA titles, but none at the D-I level. The last of the D-II titles came in 2017.

Pearl City (7-4-1) will play Kaiser (7-2-3) for one of the OIA’s remaining two state berths. Moanalua (6-3-3) and Kalani (6-2-3) will clash for the other.

Two-time defending OIA champ Mililani (11-0) has a record 18 titles, while Kapolei (9-2-1) has five and Campbell (8-1-2) none. Kailua and Campbell meet at 5:30 p.m Thursday with Mililani and host Kapolei to follow.

Kailua’s Kai Fraser looked to center the ball while defended by Pearl City’s Ayden Peralta. (Spectrum News/Brian McInnis)

Pearl City players flashed shakas after the quarterfinal. They have a chance to clinch a state berth against Kaiser. (Spectrum News/Brian McInnis)

Brian McInnis covers the state’s sports scene for Spectrum News Hawaii. He can be reached at brian.mcinnis@charter.com.

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