Punahou powers past Pearl City


POSTED: Thursday, February 05, 2009

Punahou employed a relentless offensive attack and swarming defense en route to a 6-0 victory over Pearl City in the Division I opening round of the Hawaii High School Athletic Association/JN Automotive Group Girls State Soccer Championships yesterday afternoon at the Waipio Peninsula Soccer Complex.

Five Buffanblu players chipped in with goals, including two second-half scores from sophomore Sarah Hayashi, while a persistent defensive unit thwarted the Chargers' advances and won the majority of loose balls.

“;We were winning balls today, and what's important too is once we won the ball, we were able to connect passes,”; said Punahou head coach Matt Martinson. “;The possession was key, and we've been working on that.”;

The Interscholastic League of Honolulu runner-up Buffanblu took the momentum in the game's third minute as midfielder Allyson Holtz fielded a header from teammate Sydney Meheula in the goal area and guided the ball into the back of the net to give Punahou a 1-0 lead.

“;That's what we wanted to do. We've been talking about (eliminating) inertia, and that once we get it going, it will be a lot easier to continue,”; Martinson said of the fast start.

The Buffanblu (10-0-3) added three more first-half goals, including an unassisted score apiece from Michaela Tsuha and Jasmine Kauka in the game's 30th and 36th minutes. Kauka, a defender, scored from nearly 40 yards out as the junior took a free kick and booted it over Pearl City goalkeeper Myra Yamamoto's outstretched hands.

Punahou pushed the lead to 4-0 just 2 minutes later as midfielder Aisha Price unleashed a 30-yard throw-in from the sideline to the Chargers' goal box, where Karli Look was waiting to gather the ricochet and pop in the short-range goal. Price's ability to pinpoint her laser-like throw-ins made it difficult for Pearl City to get in good position for interceptions.

“;It definitely is a gift—she's got extraordinary strength and ability,”; said Martinson of his senior's impressive throw-ins. “;The ability to get the ball in the box like that is a great weapon.”;

The Chargers (9-5-2) gave a courageous effort, considering they have lost six starters—five seniors and a junior—over the course of the year to torn anterior cruciate ligaments. With a patchwork crew consisting of four sophomores, three juniors and four seniors, Pearl City could not keep up with the experience and depth of Punahou.

“;I've got so many young kids, it was good that they got in the game today,”; said Pearl City co-head coach Frank Baumholtz III. “;Once it was 3-0, we played everybody and we gained a lot by doing that. At least we're fresh (entering the) consolation bracket. Unfortunately, without (my six injured players), it's a totally different ballgame.”;

While Baumholtz, who is in his 22nd year of coaching the Chargers girls' program, was quick to give credit to Punahou for its strong performance, he also expressed his desire to have the tourney seeded according to overall talent, not the current system of awarding seeds based on regular-season league titles.

“;Our main goal every year is to get to the state tournament, and once we get here, everybody's got to play together,”; Baumholtz said. “;A lot of it has to do with the draw, and which pool you're in, but they don't seed the teams”; according to overall perceived talent and potential, but instead, by league championship results.

“;If they seeded the teams (according to talent and reputation), Punahou would be second (to top-seeded Kamehameha) because of who they are.”;

Punahou advances to play No. 3-seeded Kamehameha-Maui, the Maui Interscholastic League champion, in one of today's quarterfinal matchups scheduled for 3 p.m. at the Waipio Peninsula Soccer Complex's main stadium.



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