Punahou satisfies title craving


POSTED: Monday, February 08, 2010

Punahou, with just three seniors, survived its biggest test of the year on Saturday. Against a Mililani squad that lost field general Sasha Moscatello (knee) in the semifinals, the top-seeded Buffanblu had no way to know how hard the second-seeded Trojans would run, bump and claw.

The end result? A 2-1 win for Punahou, which didn't score a goal of its own, but came through with penalty kicks in the clutch.

Punahou (13-1-1) won its second Division I girls soccer state title in a row under coach Matt Martinson, whose plea for smart preparation was heeded. Otherwise, Mililani might have pulled off an upset even with Moscatello out and forward Mari Miyashiro playing on a hyperextended knee.

One of the seniors, Karli Look, had preached about rest, hydration and common-sense eating during the tourney, especially with the Punahou Carnival beckoning. Martinson also repeated the mantra to the young team.

The youngsters listened.

“;I'll take this over a bag of malasadas any day,”; Martinson said.

It was a difficult close to the season for Mililani (17-1), and especially seniors such as Miyashiro and Moscatello. Miyashiro reinjured her knee early in the match, but returned to spark a fierce Trojans defense that matched Punahou's speed and paid no heed to a size disadvantage.

Moscatello, who has a possible MCL tear, was in uniform and pleaded to get into the match.

“;I warmed up, but I had a little accident,”; she said.

Then came the overtime periods, then penalty kicks.

“;I was warming up. I was going in the first lineup, then they decided I'd be in the second lineup,”; said Moscatello, who has a scholarship to play at Pacific next season. “;Then they decided no.”;

The D-II state final carried as much drama, if not more. Pac-Five (7-6-1), a conglomerate of several small-to-tiny schools, won its second state crown in a row with a 1-0 win over Kailua after overtime and penalty kicks.

The Wolfpack overcame injury issues, too. Seniors Nicole Betters and Ashley Haruki especially enjoyed touching the championship trophy.

Betters, their leading scorer this season, was out with an ACL injury last season. She injured an ankle this week and sat out the semifinal win over Kapaa, but returned for the final.

“;I exercised all day (Friday) with our trainer. I really wanted to play,”; she said. “;I've been waiting three years to play on this (stadium) field.”;

Haruki also sat out last year's tourney with an ACL injury.

“;It felt really good to be back,”; the junior midfielder said.

“;I really love the players. This year, they really put out. Struggled at the beginning, but they picked up their game,”; coach Eddie Wong said.

The heartbreak of losing extended beyond Kailua's borders. The Surfriders dedicated the season to late coach Wil Kimura, who died in December at 62.

Kailua (14-1) was dominated in several aspects, but refused to let up inside the box. The gritty performance had a statewide TV audience inspired, as well.

“;Coach (Kimura) was not about trophies,”; Kailua coach Manu Afong said. “;He cared about how you developed as an individual. That was his main concern.”;