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HPU Green Team sets positive tone for soccer

by Jimmi Hemmenbach, staff writer


With seven points in three opening games in the Hawaiian MISO-league, the HPU Green Team got the start it wanted. After tying the first game 0-0, on Sept. 19, against last season’s finalist, Lanikai Tuesday, Green followed up, on September 26, with a 3-0 win against Aloha Amazon.

On Oct. 3, HPU defeated Mililani Soccer Club 4-1.

The Mililani game couldn’t have started better. Only six minutes into the game, HPU Green’s Christopher Zachrison gave an opening pass to Erik Wangen, who crossed it into the box where Conny Kristiansson finished putting HPU Green ahead 1-0.

After the goal, HPU Green dominated the game, but neither team could create any clear scoring opportunities.

Thirty minutes into the game, a Mililani player headed a ball to HPU Green’s goalkeeper, Zach Mourad, but the ball was cleared on the goalline by Swedish defender Kristian Persson. This was the start of an intensive Mililani press that resulted in a tie in the 33rd minute. The Mililani player dribbled past two HPU players inside the penalty area, and finished with a drive into the far corner without giving Mourad any chance.

It could have been worse. Just before half-time, Mourad made a brilliant save on a 25-yard shot from a Mililani player.

“ The first half’s efforts were lackadaisical,” said Scott Liedtke, HPU Green’s coach, clearly disappointed with his team’s performance so far in the game. “We gave away too much space and backed into our own defensive third, which gave us problems defensively” Liedtke said. About the goal conceded, he added: “We have to pressure them and be more aggressive.”

That was exactly what happened in the second half. Two minutes into the second half, Iovo Stefanov had a golden opportunity to score after a nice set play by Tourbjorn Hompland and Zachrison. The Mililani goalkeeper denied Stefanov that time.

Ten minutes later, Hompland, nicely served by Stefanov, managed to shoot over the bar, unfortunately a couple of yards from the goal.

The goal came at 65 minutes, after a great play by right fullback Kristian Persson and Zachrison, who found Stefanov inside the goal area. Stefanov made no mistake and gave HPU Green the lead in the game.

With one goal up, HPU Green controlled the game. Mililani now had a hard time finding a way through. In the 78th minute, Walter Sanchez received the ball on the outside of the goal area, and he finished it accurately. With 3-1 up, HPU Green just had to hold on to their lead.

On injury time, Stefanov brilliantly put the score to 4-1, assisted by Oliver Smith.

Liedtke was pleased after the game. “We showed character in the second half. We stepped up and pressured the ball, creating turnovers.”

When asked about the players’ performances and if anyone had surprised him, Liedtke said: “The cohesiveness of this group is without any doubt the biggest surprise so far.”


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