DIVISION I GIRLS STATE CHAMPIONSHIP
JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
The Kamehameha girls celebrated after last night's Division I Girls State Championship Game at the Waipio Peninsula Soccer Park.
Kamehameha wins title
The sleeping giant awoke, and that spelled doom for the last remaining enemy in its sight.
Meadow Gold Dairies/HHSAA State Soccer Championships
Kamehameha 2, Kapolei 1
Pearl City 3, King Kekaulike 0
Mililani 0, Kalani 0
Kamehameha-Maui 7, Kealakehe 2
Meleana Shim and Mari Punzal scored goals in a 2-minute span early in the second half as top-seeded Kamehameha rallied past second seed Kapolei 2-1 last night to capture the Division I crown of the Meadow Gold/HHSAA Girls Soccer State Championships.
A near-capacity crowd at chilly Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium saw Kamehameha (11-0-2) capture its second state championship in a row under coach Michele Nagamine. It is the fifth girls soccer state title for the school since the tournament began in 1982.
"Last year, we felt the pressure," Nagamine said of that senior-heavy squad. "This year, they believed from Day 1. I told the seniors at our second practice that they had to lead."
With seven freshmen and two sophomores, the Warriors led quite well. "With all the rookies, making it work, that's a credit to them," Nagamine said.
Punzal was especially delighted. The senior midfielder barely saw playing time last year after recovering from an ACL injury.
"The girl is a machine. The University of Hawaii scored with her," Nagamine said of the Rainbow Wahine recruit.
Punzal just remembered what her coach promised the team at halftime. "She said, 'If we score in the first 5 minutes (of the second half), she'd take us out to lunch,' " Punzal said.
The Warriors withstood all the resilience of the proud Oahu Interscholastic Association champions from Kapolei (13-3-3).
"Kamehameha did a great job," Kapolei coach Brian Beck said. "We didn't connect on our passes as well in the second half. Once they scored, we were in shock."
The Hurricanes, the decided underdogs, jumped ahead when freshman Kristina Behrens' shot glanced off the head of a Kamehameha defender and into goal.
That gave Kapolei a 1-0 lead at the 27-minute mark.
Less than 2 minutes into the second half, the Warriors tied the game.
Shim, a sophomore, blasted a 25-yarder from the left sideline into the net on one hop, without any resistance from the Hurricanes.
"Mari distracted the goalie," Shim said. "She blocked her view and the ball went right through her legs."
Two minutes later, Punzal took a corner kick in front of goal and headed a 10-yarder straight into the net to give Kamehameha a 2-1 lead.
"At first, I didn't know what happened. Once I closed my eyes and made contact, I lost track of it," Punzal said.
Kamehameha had 17 shots on goal to Kapolei's four. Hurricane goalkeeper Ashlee Dela Cruz had eight saves.
Net note: The HHSAA said attendance was more than 3,200 for all matches yesterday.