Punahou's Tamatoa Hackney, right, went after the ball against Pearl City's Steven King and goalkeeper Christopher Caswell yesterday. Punahou won the state semifinal 2-0.


Buffs, Trojans in final

By Nick Abramo

Combining accurate passing with positional discipline, Punahou defeated Pearl City 2-0 last night in the semifinals of the 2003 Meadow Gold Boys State Soccer Championship Tournament.

The Buffanblu (14-0-2) advanced to the 8 p.m. final against Mililani, a 1-0 winner over Kamehameha.

"I thought we played our best game of the year," Punahou coach Bob Clague said. "We were 'on' the whole game, and we played a tremendous team game. Everybody hustled their butts off."

After dominating the scoreless first half at Waipio Peninsula Soccer Park, Punahou finally got on the board for a 1-0 lead in the 49th minute as Nicholas Wachi deposited Stephen Carlson's soft pass into the low right corner.

"The ball bounced to me and I saw Nick coming down the line; he had been running on him (the defender) all game, so I knew he had him beat," Carlson said about his pass that led to the game-winning goal. "It was a good feeling to finally get one because we dominated that first half with lots of chances."

The goal came three minutes after Callum Trigg-Smith's shot sailed high after he gathered in a Satoshi Mitsuda end-line feed.

The Buffanblu went up 2-0 in the 58th minute on a funky play in which Mitsuda overran both the ball and Chargers goalkeeper Christopher Caswell as Caswell tried to cover a roller about 10 yards out. Mitsuda got up, raced back to the ball, turned and fired it home.

"Punahou is an incredible team, very talented with a big and hungry senior class," Pearl City coach Scott Keopuhiwa said. "They are so skilled, and we knew that about them and tried to prepare for them. But I thought our boys gave it their all."

The Buffanblu had a decided edge in field position and ball control in the first half, thanks to its passing attack and stiff defense. Wachi, Carlson, Mitsuda, Kevin Lenahan, Marcus Chun and Andrew Strand were instrumental in weaving the ball through the Pearl City defense numerous times.

Caswell is the only reason the score was 0-0 at the half. He robbed Trigg-Smith from point-blank range by diving to a ball that looked like it was destined to find the low left corner.

"I saw him (Trigg-Smith) coming and when he shot it I just went for it and luckily got it," Caswell said while icing an injured toe after the game .

Caswell turned away two consecutive Wachi shots from a few yards out as well as Brandon Higa's low rocket on a cross-field pass from Lenahan in the first half.

"Of course we're disappointed because our goal is to always make the final," Caswell said. "We thought we had a good chance of winning. We've had a great season. The coach is proud of us and I'm proud, too."

Punahou keeper David Semenza stopped two bang-bang Pearl City (11-3-1) shots in the first half after Ricky Shinn's throw-in, including a bullet by Keone Peiper. Semenza also covered up a Peiper heat-seeking missile late in the game.

Clague, who has won 14 state titles as the Punahou coach, said this year's final four is the best he's seen.

"I love the environment with the fantastic wide field," Clague said. "You can play soccer here and I'm just happy I'm here (on the regulation-size field), finally."

Carlson knows the Buffanblu has their hands full tonight. "We're playing really well and part of that is that we had a two-week break to get rested," Carlson said. "But I feel confident about our chances."

The Chargers play Kamehameha in the third-place game today at 6.

Mililani 1, Kamehameha 0: After back-and-forth action for 80 regulation minutes and 15 minutes of overtime, Justin Kim of the Trojans drove in a low 30-yard direct kick for the victory.

Mililani (13-0-1) is one win away from its third straight state championship. Kamehameha dropped to 11-5-1.

Hilo 2, Kauai 1: Moi Kanealii scored twice for the Vikings to wipe out the Red Raiders' 1-0 halftime lead.

Justin Toulon had Kauai's lone goal.

Hilo (16-2) plays Big-Island rival Hawaii Prep (16-3) in today's fifth-place game at 4 p.m.

State boys soccer

All games at Waipio Peninsula Soccer Complex

1. Mililani (13-0-1),
2. Punahou (14-0-2),
3. Baldwin (10-2),
4. Hilo (16-2).

Kamehameha 5, Roosevelt 0
Kauai 3, Moanalua 2
Hawaii Prep 3, Castle 1
Pearl City 3, Honokaa 0

Moanalua 1, Roosevelt 0
Honokaa 3, Castle 2
Kamehameha 2, Hilo 0
Punahou 3, Hawaii Prep 0
Pearl City 4, Baldwin 3
Mililani 3, Kauai 0

Hilo 2, Kauai 1
Hawaii Prep def. Baldwin, forfeit
Punahou 2, Pearl City 0
Mililani 1, Kamehameha 0

Game 15: Moanalua vs. Honokaa, 2 p.m.
Game 16: Hilo vs. Hawaii Prep, 4 p.m.
Game 17: Pearl City vs. Kamehameha, 6 p.m.
Game 18: Punahou vs. Mililani, 8 p.m.

Hawaii School Web Sites

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