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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Punahou goalie plays part to perfection

By Leila Wai
Advertiser Staff Writer

Punahou goalkeeper Allison Lipsher credits her teammates' defense for not allowing a goal during the Interscholastic League of Honolulu season. "I hardly get any shots, because they never let anybody come through," she says.

Eugene Tanner • The Honolulu Advertiser

Punahou senior Allison Lipsher had a small part in last weekend's senior class variety show, singing and dancing in the background.

Her part, she said, required just standing there and looking "cute."

It is typical for Lipsher, an Advertiser All-State first team goalkeeper for the undefeated Buffanblu (10-0), to downplay her role.

"She was actually supposed to have one of the main roles, but because of (soccer) practice, they took that part away from her," junior defender Kelsey Baker said. "She was kind of bummed about that, but she did a good job, she made it funny."

Lipsher and Baker, who was also named to last year's All-State first team, are a part of a Punahou team that is the defending state champion and top seed in this week's Ohana Hotels State Girls Soccer Championships, which begin tomorrow at Waipi'o Peninsula Soccer Complex.

Punahou's defense has not allowed a goal during the Interscholastic League of Honolulu season, and according to Lipsher, the credit goes to her defensive unit of Baker, seniors Lisa Lerud and Kelly Hiraki, sophomores Sophie Merrifield and Kellie Nakahara, and freshman Chelsea Deptula.

"They're almost unstoppable," Lipsher said. "I hardly get any shots, because they never let anybody come through. I haven't even had to do anything this year.

"I have a ridiculously small amount of saves this year."

She has posted 25 saves and 10 shutouts, en route to helping Punahou earn its fourth straight ILH title.

"It doesn't happen that often, I was lucky enough to have that happen when I was here," she said.

The four straight titles were produced by a team that combined a strong defensive unit and an offense that has outscored opponents 39-0.

"It's a boost to know that when my offense struggles, I can depend on my defense to keep us in the game until we score," Punahou coach Jorge Barbosa said.

Lipsher herself has come out of the goal to score twice.

"I probably just got lucky, I stepped in something," she said. "Goalies have no skill."

Barbosa refuses to believe that.

"Alli is a good (field) player, she's been brought up with very good skills, she's got speed, height, and she's terrific in the air," Barbosa said. "If I didn't have to play her as a goalkeeper, I would have put her up on every corner kick, and she'd probably put 80 percent of them in.

"She would have been a soccer player no matter what, whether in the goal or on the field, she's got great skills."

Her great skills as a goalkeeper garnered her NSCAA/adidas 2003 Youth All-America honors late last year.

She said that her main goal for her senior year was to have fun "with everything, with school, friends, soccer, everything."

It helped that she didn't have the pressure of deciding which college she would be attending. After verbally committing to Duke last year, she signed a National Letter of Intent yesterday.

"I'm super stoked, I'm ready to leave already," she said. "I wanted to go there because it's a really good school with a really good soccer program and it's really far away."

Duke finished 14-7-1 last season, was ranked No. 17 by SoccerTimes.com, and made it to the second round of the NCAA tournament. The Blue Devils will travel to Hawai'i on Sept. 10 to play the University of Hawai'i.

"My dad's all bummed, because as soon as he is getting rid of me, I'm coming back," she joked.

"She is probably one of the funniest people I know, she makes fun of herself and cracks jokes about other people," Baker said. "The only time I see her serious is on the field."

And on the field, she "takes charge," Baker said.

"Coach tells me to talk a lot, but it makes it easy that Alli is vocal. If I miss something or don't say it, she always speaks up.

"It's a lot more relaxing (with Lipsher on the field), because I know if I mess up, it isn't all over."

The Buffanblu will put their "N.G.P." — No Goals Policy — on the line beginning Thursday when it faces the winner of the Kailua-Kaua'i first-round game.

"Hopefully we'll carry that to states," Barbosa said of N.G.P. "The time will come when someone will score on us; it will be nice to finish the season without giving up a goal, but if we do, which will probably happen, we'll just start another streak."

Notes: Punahou senior Allison Tsuchida signed a letter of intent with Boise State... Punahou boys soccer player Stephen Carlson signed with Loyola Marymount.

Reach Leila Wai at lwai@honoluluadvertiser.com or 535-2457.