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Manuel's goal puts 'Iolani in state final rematch

Feb. 10—The 'Iolani boys soccer team ensured a rematch of last year's final is on.

The 'Iolani boys soccer team ensured a rematch of last year's final is on.

Kualau Manuel scored a golden goal at 89 :10 off an assist from Micheal Kostecki as No. 1 seed 'Iolani beat No. 4 seed Baldwin 1-0 in the semifinals of the Motiv8 Foundation /HHSAA Boys Division I State Championships on Friday at Waipio Peninsula Soccer Complex's main stadium.

"I just saw Mikey driving down the line and during practice my coaches always tell me, 'Get to the front post, get to the front post.' I just tried my best to get to the front post, " Manuel said.

'Iolani will face Mililani for the title today at 7 p.m. at Waipio. The Raiders won last year's championship.

"Mililani, I know a lot of those boys from club and they're a very good bunch as usual, " 'Iolani coach Chris Lee said.

Kostecki called this final rematch with the Trojans last season.

"Last year, I sat down with the coaches after we won states and I said it's going to be us and Mililani again in the finals, " Kostecki said. "That's exactly what it is. Us and Mililani are the two best teams in the state. They're a fantastic team, but we're the best in the state by far. We faced way more adversity and I'm so ready for tomorrow."

On the winning play, Austin Ancheta slotted the ball to Kostecki on the left side and he crossed to Manuel, who knocked the ball in just inside the right post.

"He just kind of slotted me the ball down the middle and I wanted the ball for myself and I wanted the one-on-one, " Kostecki said. "I took the ball and cut inside and I played it across the goal right between the defender and the goalie. Kua, our football all-star, just tapped it in."

Baldwin had a golden opportunity late in regulation, but Kanata Kuwahara's penalty kick at 78 :37 was stopped by 'Iolani goalkeeper Brayden Obrero. The play was set up when the Bears' Brayden Barbosa was tackled in the penalty box by Souichi Amakata.

Kuwahara shot to the left side and Obrero read it and punched it away.

"I was nervous, but once I got my nerves down, I stared at him dead in the eye and I started smiling at him and I pointed to psyche him out, " said Obrero, who was limping after injuring his right hamstring earlier in the second half. "I looked at his hips, dove and I saved it."

Baldwin coach Kaniela Palazzotto said : "I feel bad for my boy, Kanata, but I wouldn't have anyone else in that situation to take that kick."

Both teams had opportunities on a muddy pitch that got soaked by halftime showers.

"We laid it out there and we gave them our best shot and sometimes this game is cruel, " Palazzotto said.

Baldwin nearly broke through in the 51st when Kuwahara's shot from the right side landed on top of the netting.

'Iolani nearly got it in on a mad scramble just in front of the goal line in the 60th, which included a save by Baldwin goalkeeper Sam Paci. The ball wound up going off a Bears player over the end line.

In the 70th, Baldwin's Jordan Carbonell had his 25-yard free kick saved by Obrero, who dove to his left.

The Bears got the better of play in the first half.

Makai Warner's shot from in close in the 21st went over the crossbar.

In the 24th, Carbonell's shot was stopped by Obrero.

Guiness Ruiz Rockett's blast from straight away was saved by Obrero in the 27th.

"I thought we outplayed them at times, especially in the first half. They battled back in the second half and it was a scrappy game in the second half, " Palazzotto said.

The Raiders' best opportunity came in the 41st when Ancheta's header off a free kick from Keane Palmer was saved by Paci, who leaped and batted the ball over the crossbar.