Punahou seniors help win 17th title
• Photo gallery: State Division I boys soccer championship
By Leila Wai
Advertiser Staff Writer
The Punahou boys soccer program has a long and storied tradition of winning state championships.
And none of the current players experienced one, until last night.
Punahou won its first title since 2007 and 17th overall, beating 'Iolani, 1-0, in the Hawai'i High School Athletic Association/JN Automotive Group Boys Division I State Championship last night at the Waipi'o Peninsula Soccer Stadium.
"None of us have ever won so it feels great because it was our last year," Punahou senior captain Cody Sia said. "Most of these kids are really good so hopefully they can win more in the coming years.
"I can't really describe it right now."
Fellow senior captain Jon Cloutier added: "It feels good. I like it. I'm glad senior year we were able to win it. We had a strong senior class."
Sia and Cloutier were the only sophomores on coach David Trifonovitch's first team in 2008.
"Before the game I told them, 'Guys, it's been a great ride, let's put the cherry on top,' " Trifonovitch said. "And it's been a special relationship between me and those two guys."
Trifonovitch said he liked the way the Buffanblu played "team soccer. They possessed it, they tried to keep it on the ground."
Punahou, the tournament's top seed out of the Interscholastic League of Honolulu, finished the season 11-1-3. 'Iolani, last year's state champion, finished 10-3-2. The Raiders lost a double-digit senior class from last year's team.
"For a lot of these guys, it was their first time playing in a final," 'Iolani coach Chris Lee said. "We lost some players before the tournament started. We lost Trevor Farm in back and Taylor Van Etten couldn't play all tournament, and those are two key guys who would have helped. Especially when you have to go four games in four days, you need the bodies. And Punahou just looked a lot more fresh than we did."
'Iolani goalkeeper Logan Nowack, a converted volleyball player, essentially volleyball-blocked a point-blank shot in the 10th minute to keep the game scoreless. It was one of the better chances by either team in the first half of the close-as-expected game between league rivals.
Until Punahou scored. With less than two minutes left in the first half, senior forward Sean Hungerford scored on a header off a throw-in from the left side by junior midfielder Scott Granger. The ball deflected off the pile crashing the goal and continued on to Hungerford, who was running to the far, right post.
"I was just floating in the back corner and I saw the ball pop up so I decided to crash out box because that was what our game plan was, to get as many people in the box as possible and cause confusion," Hungerford said. "As the ball came to the back, it was coming in slow motion. I had to put it in, at least get a body on it."
It was Punahou's first first-half goal of the tournament. In its first two games, the Buffanblu scored three goals in each second half.
"We got a goal in the first half!" exclaimed Trifonovitch. "Maybe that's why we only scored one instead of three."
For the Raiders, it was senior forward Nick Goo up top, and he had a few solid chances in front of the goal that he just missed converting .
"We were a bit nervous," Trifonovitch said. "They can counterattack at any moment. I told the guys we have to possess, we have to keep playing offense. Even though we were up a goal, we were going to go after two or three more. But we were always worried about Nick getting through, or someone slipping through."
KEALAKEHE 2, KAMEHAMEHA 0
Kealakehe completed one of its most successful seasons with a third-place finish.
Senior forward Kane Malone scored in the 47th minute and senior midfielder Marius Stensby in the 64th minute for the Waveriders (17-1-1), the tournament's fourth seed and Big Island Interscholastic Federation champion.
Kamehameha (8-6-1), which made a run at the end of the season, was the third-place Interscholastic League of Honolulu team.
Mililani 1, Moanalua 0. Mil — Alex Ortega (33:00).
Pearl City 2, 'Aiea 2. PC — Eddie Rodriguez (5:00), Nicolas Kapua (21:00). A — Dylan Daguay (17:00), Sean Chang (31:00).