Punahou, 'Iolani in 0-0 battle
• Photo gallery: Punahou vs. Iolani soccer
By Leila Wai
Advertiser Staff Writer
It was a typical 'Iolani versus Punahou matchup, with high intensity, hard tackles, pass-first offenses, and momentum swings. The only thing lacking was goals.
The teams tied, 0-0, in an Interscholastic League of Honolulu boys soccer game yesterday at Waipi'o Peninsula Soccer Park.
"In an 'Iolani-Punahou game, you know the game is going to have its momentum swings; you have to ride them out and try to keep playing your game," 'Iolani coach Chris Lee said.
The Buffanblu (6-1-3) and the Raiders (5-2-2) remain the top two teams in the Division I standings. Kamehameha is third at 5-4-1. Idle Mid-Pacific, the league's lone Division II representative, is 7-1-1, and remains the ILH overall leader, playing against an all-Division I schedule.
"At the end, we got a little more, so once we get the ball behind the defense, and we put things across the middle, we do a lot better," Punahou coach David Trifonovitch said. "It was a tough game because the guys were getting tired. It was so big, and we were playing at a pretty intense pace, both sides, so you could see the guys getting tired at the end, and that changes things too."
The top two ILH Division I teams receive automatic berths for the state tournament, with the third-place team challenging the sixth-place team of the O'ahu Interscholastic Association for another state tournament spot.
Even with little to no wind yesterday, both the Raiders and Buffanblu seemed to favor attacking the same side. In the first half, it was 'Iolani that had the offensive chances, while Punahou put the pressure on in the second.
"Punahou has a great defense, their two center backs are tough — Cody (Sia) and John (Cloutier) — and in soccer, the hardest thing to do is score a goal, and I think we had our opportunities in the first half. We just weren't able to bury them," Lee said. "Then the second half, it was a pretty back-and-forth, even game."
In the first half, much of the play early on was dictated by individual efforts, offensively and defensively. Neither team offered much defensive pressure until the ball entered the offensive third, and players were allowed to negotiate the vast space both teams seemed to be allowing in the midfield.
"We don't intend to, but this field is big; that's why we like to play at Waipi'o, because it spreads things out," Trifonovitch said. "It creates that sense of lots of space because we're so used to being packed in.
"It does open things up a little bit. We were getting a little anxious, so rather than settling the ball and getting behind (the defense) and laying it back, they get anxious and they crack it, trying to hit the long shots."