Moonier’s moment brings Punahou a 21st state title

Punahou midfielder Max Moonier (10) reacted after scoring the winning goal during overtime to give the Buffanblu the D-I state soccer title. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.

It was one of those oh-oh moments.

‘Iolani was trying to clear the ball from its own end, but it went askew and right to Punahou’s Max Moonier, who trapped it and sent an 18-foot strike into the top left corner. It was the dagger that finally put the Raiders away.

The goal seven minutes into overtime by the senior midfielder gave the Buffanblu a 1-0 win in the Division I final of The Queen’s Medical Center/HHSAA Boys Soccer State Championships at Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium on Saturday night.

It’s Punahou’s 21st championship in the 45 years of the tournament. ‘Iolani was going for title No. 10.

Moonier’s goal was a poetic finish in the eyes of Buffanblu coach David Trifonovitch.

“A beautiful goal,” he said. “It’s significant because Max has been been such a team leader for the last three years. He’s played outstanding the last couple of years. This year, he had the extra pressure of being a senior and a captain on his shoulders. He did simple things to keep us going, but he didn’t have the moments that he had in the last few years. So that moment to put the cherry on top is huge for all of us. He’s led us for that long. It was appropriate.”

Either team could have come away victorious in the back and forth, physical finale.

Punahou ended up going 3-0-1 against the Raiders this season. One of those wins was a 4-1 shellacking for the ILH championship.

The Raiders’ effort in this one showed just how far they’ve come.

“They (the Raiders) played fantastic in this tournament,” Trifonovitch said. “Any time you play a team four times and you’ve had success in three of them, you can go in complacent or overconfident. They struggled early this season and they gave us a game that could have gone either way at any time. I was nervous. Kudos to their coaching staff for that.”

Chris Lee, the ‘Iolani coach, was upbeat and proud of his squad for making it as far as it did. Their comeback, 3-2 win over Kapolei in the semifinals on Friday came from deep within the gut.

“The fans were treated to a really exciting game,” Lee said about Saturday’s loss. “Both teams didn’t give in and neither team was dominating the whole game. It was back and forth the whole way, fighting for everything. Punahou is a great team and a great program, and we know that every time we step on the field to play them, it’s always going to be an exciting battle.”

Jacob Lee, one of ‘Iolani’s rugged defenders, said, “We played hard and we played well. I love them and I’m proud of everyone for making it all the way to the end.”

But it’s the Buffanblu’s koa trophy this year, their first since 2017 and it comes one year after losing to Baldwin in the semifinals.

“I’m so excited,” Moonier said. “What a great way to end my senior year and the season. I’m super happy and I’m happy for the team.”

HHSAA D-I State Boys Soccer

Match #DateMatchupTime/ScoresSite
1Feb. 4'Iolani vs. KaiserIol, 4-0'Iolani
2Feb. 4Hilo vs. KalaniKaln, 1-0Hilo
3Feb. 4Baldwin vs. Pearl CityPC, 2-1 (5-3 PKs)War Memorial Stadium
4Feb. 4Mililani vs. CampbellMil, 4-0Mililani
5Feb. 7(2) King Kekaulike vs. MililaniMil, 2-0Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium
6Feb. 7(4) Kapolei vs. Pearl CityKapo, 1-0 (OT)Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium
7Feb. 7(1) Hawaii Prep vs. 'IolaniIol, 2-1Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium
8Feb. 7(3) Punahou vs. KalaniPun, 2-1Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium
9*Feb. 8Pearl City vs. Hawaii PrepHPA, 6-1Waipio
10*Feb. 8King Kekaulike vs. KalaniKK, 5-1Waipio
11Feb. 8Mililani vs. PunahouPun, 3-2 (5-3 PKs)Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium
12Feb. 8Kapolei vs. 'IolaniIol, 3-2Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium
13*Feb. 9Hawaii Prep vs. King KekaulikeKK, 3-1Waipio
14*Feb. 9Mililani vs. KapoleiKapo, 5-1Waipio
15Feb. 9Punahou vs. 'IolaniPun, 1-0 (OT)Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium
* — consolation

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