D-I GIRLS SOCCER CHAMPIONSHIP
RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Kamehameha's Courtney-Rae Botelho tried to keep the ball away from Punahou's Lauren Wong last night. The Warriors beat the Buffanblu for their third straight state championship.
Kamehameha's Courtney-Rae Botelho scored in the 48th minute to lift the Warriors to their third straight state title, 1-0 over Punahou last night in the JN Automotive/HHSAA Division I Girls Soccer State Championship at Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium.
State Girls Soccer:
At Waipio Peninsula Soccer Park
Kapolei 2, Kalani 0
Moanalua 2, Konawaena 0
Pearl City 0, Mililani 0
Kamehameha 1, Punahou 0
Erin Rementer, Punahou; Sanoe Souza, Kamehameha; Courtney-Rae Botelho, Kamehameha; Brittney Sanford, Punahou; Chelsey Goo, Mililani; Karli Look, Punahou; Aisha Price, Punahou; Jasmine Kauka, Punahou; Amy Tanaka, Pearl City; Shelby Moriguchi, Kamehameha; Joleen Realin, Mililani
Most Outstanding Player
Erin Kanani Taaca, Kamehameha
The sophomore forward took a smooth upfield pass through traffic from Shelby Moriguchi and fired a blast on the run past Buffanblu goalkeeper Alana Munger for the game-winning goal.
"It was some luck, I was shooting for the back post though," said Botelho. "It was a good pass -- I wasn't expecting it at my feet."
The Interscholastic League of Honolulu was absolutely dominant on the way to placing both of its representatives in the title game. The ILH has now won the championship six straight years, and until last night, no ball in the tournament found the net against Kamehameha or Punahou in regulation.
The third straight state title presented a whole new set of challenges. Kamehameha struggled in the preseason, and coach Michele Nagamine's expectations weren't championship-caliber entering ILH play because of a lack of a bona fide star on the team.
"This was special. We had no all-stars, no go-to players," Nagamine said. "The seniors led with their heart and souls."
Kamehameha goalkeeper Kanani Taaca, the tournament's most valuable player for the second straight year, made several spectacular saves on the way to notching a third straight shutout, and got the Kamehameha faithful on their feet with her bold dives to the ball.
An evenly played and scoreless first half came as no surprise, as the teams split their regular-season meetings and Kamehameha edged Punahou by a single point in the ILH standings.
The Warriors made a concerted effort to keep the ball away from the dangerous feet of Erin Rementer, the league's leading scorer.
Punahou coach Matt Martinson guided the Buffanblu to a second-place finish in his first year at the helm.
"It was a long, hard road, but this game doesn't spoil anything," he said. "As a team, we're closer now than ever all season long."
Punahou earned a couple of close calls on the Kamehameha goal with its unique weapon, junior Aisha Price. The "human corner kick" bombarded the Warriors' penalty box with insanely long throw-ins that were a simple deflection away from a goal.
Nagamine -- recently named the national high school coach of the year by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America -- will be introduced as Hawaii Pacific University's new women's soccer head coach tomorrow. Since the NCAA Division II season doesn't intersect with high school soccer, she's able to remain coach of the Warriors.
"It's nice to go into this with another championship under my belt," Nagamine said. "It's another opportunity to grow as a person and a coach."