• Kyodo News


Captain Kota Hamaguchi and strike partner Hiroki Higuchi both helped themselves to braces as Takigawa Daini captured their maiden national high school championship title with a thrilling 5-3 win over Kumiyama in Monday’s showpiece final.

Nobuharu Honjo set up Hamaguchi and Higuchi to give Takigawa a 2-0 halftime lead and then got on the scoresheet himself before Hamaguchi completed his brace after Kumiyama had pulled one back through Shota Hayashi on 57 minutes at a bitterly cold National Stadium.

Kumiyama managed to grab a second through Aiji Yasukawa and Tatsuyoshi Sakamoto made it 4-3 to set up a tense finale with four minutes left, but Higuchi sealed victory deep into injury time to finish as the tournament’s leading scorer with eight goals.

Takigawa became the first school from Hyogo Prefecture to win the title since Kobe Itchu triumphed all the way back in 1938.

“Obviously I am delighted but it really hasn’t sunk in yet,” said jubilant Takigawa coach Hiroyasu Kakoi. “Our two strikers proved the key to our victory today but they were able to do that thanks to the midfielders and defenders who worked their socks off.”

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