Punahou wins water polo title
• Photo gallery: State girls water polo championship
By Leila Wai
Advertiser Staff Writer
Practice makes perfect, and for the Punahou girls water polo team it resulted in an undefeated season and state title.
The Buffanblu defeated 'Iolani, 9-2, for its third straight HHSAA Girls Water Polo State Championship and fifth overall yesterday at the Veterans' Memorial Aquatic Center at the Patsy T. Mink Central O'ahu Regional Park.
Punahou coach Ken Smith said the intensity formed during practices fueled their games.
"This group, in particular, had passion to be here every single day," Smith said. "They train super hard, they totally make a commitment to be the best they are capable of in the areas of mind, body and spirit, and they do that every day in practice."
The Buffanblu (11-0) outscored opponents 157-18 during a season where practices may have been more competitive than a few of their games.
"It's amazing, but I think for us, it's more the journey," tournament Most Outstanding Player Shayna Price said. "We've always played so hard in practice and in our games, and just being here is amazing, too."
Yesterday, Punahou was pressured more than it had been all season.
"It was definitely the hardest game we've had," Price said. "We started out not as strong. I don't know what it was, but I'm glad we picked it up in the end."
Citing impatience for missed opportunities early in the game, Smith said "it was a championship game, so they wanted to just go, and go and go."
Junior Brailey Hirose-Hulbert scored three goals and Price one as Punahou scored the first four goals of the game. Sophomore Nicolette Silva scored on a man-up situation for the Raiders (7-5) in the 4-1 first quarter.
Price and Silva traded goals in the second quarter to make it 5-2 at the half.
"We changed up our game plan a little bit," said 'Iolani coach Ian Kusao, whose team lost to Punahou, 14-1, in the Interscholastic League of Honolulu title game. "We were trying to get a little more motion in our offense, and make sure to get back on defense because Punahou is a really quick team.
"We played a lot better today. ... As the game went on, we got a little tired."
Punahou junior Chauncey Hirose-Hulbert, senior Megan Steele junior Abby Yosaitis and Price added second-half goals.
"Defense is even more important, because you're not going to have as big a score difference in a championship game," Smith said. "So, to hold them to no goals in the entire second half, you don't need many to win."