By JOE FERRARO
It wasn't a playoff match.
But for a Kealakehe team that hadn't been challenged all season, Wednesday's contest against Hawaii Prep played a big role in making the Waveriders playoff-ready in late January.
Kari Van Mols and Lexie Cuaresma scored second-half goals for Kealakehe, which overcame its first halftime deficit of the season to beat Ka Makani 2-1 in a battle of undefeated Big Island Interscholastic Federation girls soccer teams.
The Waveriders (9-0) came into the match having outscored their opponents 46-3.
"Games like the one we played today, the quality of the match is somewhat rare during the regular season,'' Kealakehe assistant coach Eric Franke said. "It's good to have these matches to test the team."
McKenna Davidson created the go-ahead goal in the 74th minute, working her way around a defender on the right side before delivering a cross to Cuaresma, who scored from eight yards out for her fourth goal of the season.
"McKenna created both goals, and she's been an integral part of the attack,'' Franke said. "It was good to see her have a good showing against a great team like HPA."
Kealakehe tied the match in the 48th minute, when Davidson's corner kick found Van Mols, who headed the ball into the net for her 14th goal of the season.
"It was two breakdowns where we lost people,'' HPA coach Steve Perry said of Kealakehe's two goals. "We have to have a better sense of urgency to clear the box on set pieces."
Ka Makani took the lead midway through the first half, when an HPA corner kick bounced out to junior midfielder Jessica Benioni, who delivered a perfect cross that freshman forward Bri Vallente knocked in for her seventh goal of the season.
Perry was happy with his team's effort, saying his offense created a handful of other quality scoring opportunities, especially in the first half.
Two-time defending BIIF Division II champion HPA brought out the best in Kealakehe.
Franke credited defenders Caili Ebaniz and Isla Kruger-Burgess, and goalkeeper Sulley Schuster for turning in strong games in front of Kealakehe's goal.
"(Schuster is) only in the 10th grade, but she showed a lot of maturity to stop the quality chances HPA had,'' Franke said.
Franke said he saw a little more focus from his team in the days leading up to Wednesday's match.
"I think the girls put a little more weight on this game than they would (on others),'' Franke said. "It was important for them to perform well since HPA was a quality side. They showed focus and determination (earlier in the week), and that translated to the field."
Hilo 3, Makua Lani 0: Senior Tracee Fukunaga headed in a corner kick to give her team the lead in the 37th minute as the Vikings improved to 6-2-2.
In the second half, junior Taylor Pacheco scored her third goal of the season and freshman Savannah Toussaint added her fourth. Fukunaga's goal was her second.
Sophomores Lii Maertens and Delcee Ramos and freshman, Mehana Halpern, had assists and junior Edwina Degrood notched the shutout against the Lions (4-5).
St. Joseph 4, Kohala 0: Stephanie Tait scored her second goal in as many games, while Olivia Brinkman, Alison Fuata and Georgia Pirie also found the net in the host Cardinals' first victory of the season.
St. Joseph improved to 1-7-1, while Kohala dropped to 1-9.
Ka'u at Honokaa: After officials at both schools postponed this match on Tuesday because of scheduling conflicts, the visiting Trojans announced a forfeiture of the contest on Wednesday.
Honokaa improved to 6-4, while Ka'u dropped to 0-9.
Waiakea 5, Parker 1: Freshman Sabrina Scott notched a hat trick, giving her seven goals for the season as the visiting Warriors improved to 5-2-2.
Senior Teisha Nacis added her fifth and sixth goals for Waiakea.
Freshman Aolani Pieper found the net for the Bulls (1-8-1).
Hilo 5, Makua Lani 3: Justin Shiigi scored a hat trick at Hilo Bayfront as the first-place Vikings tuned up for their biggest match of the season.
Senior Johnathan Perez added two goals to give him 14 on the season for Hilo (8-0), which travels to Kealakehe (6-0) on Saturday for a Division I showdown. Shiigi has seven goals on the season.
Senior junior Elijah Lingenfelder carried the Lions (6-2-1) with three goals, upping his season output to 19.
Waiakea 8, Parker 1: Senior Cameron Boucher scored four goals in Waimea, giving him a team-high 12 for the Warriors, who improved to 5-3.
Senior Nuu Aiava added his ninth and 10th goals of the season, while senior William Ebeling, sophomore Hajime Hayano and freshman Coleman Chaves each found the net once.
Junior Paul Gregg scored his team-high sixth goal for the Bulls (3-6).
Ka'u at Honokaa: After officials at both schools postponed this match on Tuesday because of scheduling conflicts, the visiting Trojans announced a forfeiture of the contest on Wednesday.Honokaa improved to 6-0, while Ka'u dropped to 0-10-1.