Ho'okele Staff | Jun 30, 2012
As the seventh-place team in the Gold Division, not many observers gave the Hawaii Air National Guard (HIANG) a chance to make it into the base intramural soccer championship game, but after winning three games in last weekend’s postseason playoffs, no one has any doubts about the team now.
The HIANG, which finished the regular season with an overall record of 7-3 and 21 points, accomplished the unthinkable by upsetting the Gold Division champs 17th Operational Weather Squadron (17 OWS), 1-0, June 24, in a semifinal matchup at Ward Field, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
The win punched the HIANG’s ticket into the title showdown against the defending base champions Kunia Gallos on June 30 at Ward Field starting at 9 a.m.
“The right people showed up this weekend,” said Capt. Glen Hayase about the HIANG’s performance over the weekend. “We have a good team, but just the nature of us being in the military, guys are gone periodically. As luck would have it, the right guys showed up this weekend and they’ll be here next weekend, so watch out.”
While the HIANG lost a close contest to 17 OWS early in the regular season, this time around, the team came out strong and pressured the ball from goal to goal.
The strategy seemed to pay off right away as the HIANG was able to outkick the 17 OWS on shots on goal by a margin of six to three in the first half.
“We were aggressive. We were going to the ball and beating them to the ball,” Hayase pointed out. “They were bigger than us, but with the ball in the air, we were going straight for it – not waiting for the ball to come.”
Following the break, the HIANG began to wear out the 17 OWS by storming out of halftime with a flood of shots on goal.
The HIANG outshot the 17 OWS five to nothing before Staff Sgt. Chad Sills got a straightaway shot at the top of the box and blasted the ball into the back of the net for a 1-0 lead.
“We were passing the ball around a lot,” recalled Sills about the go-ahead goal. “I saw an opening in the middle, so I ran to it and my teammate Jarvis Uyehara (Staff Sgt.) saw me and made a great pass to me. I was able to make a move and shot the ball in. I’m glad everything worked out.”
With the way the HIANG was pressing the action, Hayase said that he thought it would be just a matter of time before his team got on the scoreboard.
“He (Sills) was right on and it was about time,” Hayase stated. “We had a few chances and one was going to go in. That’s all we needed.”
Up by a goal, the HIANG now relied on their defense to take over and with time running out, the HIANG put the lockdown on the potent 17 OWS offense.
Held without a shot on goal until the last couple of minutes, the 17 OWS was held scoreless in regulation for one of the very few times this season.
“We’ve had the whole season to put it together and, our defense, these guys are solid,” Hayase said. “Not much gets past them and if they do, our goalie is top-notch. When our defense is solid, everything works from there.”
Although 17 OWS head coach Jerry Dolan was disappointed by the loss, he complimented his team for an outstanding season and gave props to the HIANG for earning a shot at the title.
“From what I could see out there, we played hard and they played hard,” Dolan said. “I told them that it was going to be decided by bounce here or there and that’s what it was. They (HIANG) earned the right to get there and move forward, so congratulations to them.”
As for the showdown against Kunia, Hayase said that the HIANG just might have one more surprise in store for the Gallos.
“I think so,” Hayase said. “One last hurrah, right?”