Mililani to take a shot at juggernaut Punahou in D-I boys soccer final tonight

Mililani's Joshua Ishizaka (4) was congratulated teammate Liam McGehee (8) after he scored his second goal during the first half against Waiakea. Photo by Cindy Ellen Russell/Star-Advertiser.

Mililani had a beautiful possession game in Friday night’s 3-2 victory over Waiakea.

Now, the trick is, can they play the same kind of game tonight against Punahou in the Division I final of The Queen’s Medical Center/HHSAA Boys Soccer State Championships at Waipio Peninsula Soccer?

Trojans center midfielder Liam McGehee, who scored two of his team’s goals against the Warriors, is not sure.

“Now matter how it is, we’re going to have to find a way,” he said.

A few defensive lapses led to two Waiakea goals and the third-seeded BIIF champions almost came back against the Trojans after trailing 3-0.

“We started off on a strong foot and all the way through — the team’s attacking, our defense, our goalie (Nicholas Gaston), we were solid,” McGehee said. “We made things easy at times and we also made it hard at times, but overall we played as a team and that’s all you can ask for.”

If it was as simple as asking, the Trojans (13-2-1) would be asking the soccer Gods for a win against the Buffanblu tonight. The Central Oahu boys have already taken down two seeds (including a 1-0 win over second-seeded Kapolei on Thursday) and now they’re taking aim at the top-seeded team.

But that is no simple thing. The Buffanblu (10-1-1) are the ILH champions who have won three of the last four D-I state championships and 21 overall in the 46 previous editions of the tournament.

“It’s going to be a hard game,” McGehee said. “We’re going to prep mentally and prep physically for it. It’s going to be physical, but we’re all excited for it. … I believe in our team.”

Coach Steve McGehee, Liam’s father, knows it might not be easy to play the possession game against Punahou.

“We’re built as a team that moves the ball around,” the coach said. “If they move fast (for instance, faster than Waiakea), that means they’ll have gaps somewhere, so we have to find it and that’s kind of what we’re going to be doing.”

According to coach McGehee, the defensive miscues that happened against the Warriors are “correctable.”

“We know who we are and what we are,” he added. “I was happy to see the boys are happy with the win, and I see that they’re not happy with the way the game played out. That means they take pride in what they do. That’s something you can’t instill in kids. They either have it or they don’t.”

McGehee was breathing slightly easier after Friday’s win, ready to watch Punahou take on Kalani in the late semifinal.

“I can breathe for 80 minutes,” he said at the time, knowing his mind afterward would be focused on game-planning for the winner. “We punched our ticket and get to sit back to watch the fireworks.”

Punahou celebrated a goal by Laakeaikamalu Salvani (26) in the first half against Kalani. Photo by Cindy Ellen Russell/Star-Advertiser.

Punahou prevails to make another D-I final

The Buffanblu were in a 1-all tie deep into the second half of the second semifinal against Kalani before Jacob Moore scored a goal for a 2-1 lead in the 71st minute. It was far from over. Kalani attacked relentlessly in the final five minutes and got robbed when Cade Matsumoto jumped to knock away a header by Jenson Fuse that would have tied it in the 79th minute.

“It’s very sad,” Fuse said. “I had a chance and couldn’t finish it. We worked for this and we couldn’t finish it.”

Said Matsumoto about the save: “It was a beautiful set piece and a perfect header. That was my time. We’ve been training that since the first day of practice. We were down to 10 men. It showed our character and the spirit we have. I can’t thank the boys enough. When that PK went in, I kind of dropped, but my teammates lifted me up. In soccer you play for more than just yourselves. You play for each other and everyone around you.”

Matsumoto added, “Mililani is a great team and they’re at their peak right now and we have to show up.”

Buffanblu coach David Trifonovitch is wary of Mililani and speedy threats such as Jvon Cunningham.

“He can cut and slice and do what he has to do to get through, so we gotta keep an eye on him,” Trifonovitch said. “Mililani is well coached. I wouldn’t be surprised if they pack it in to try to thwart our offense.”

Trifonovitch would welcome a possession and control battle.

“It could come down to how both teams connect (on their passes),” he said. “If they can do it and we can do it, it should produce a pretty nice game.”

Division I

Match #DateMatchupTime/ScoresSite
1Feb. 10Hilo vs. KaiserKais, 2-0Hilo Bayfront
2Feb. 10Pearl City vs. KalaniKaln, 6-1Kalani
3Feb. 10KS-Maui vs. MililaniMil, 2-0KS-Maui
4Feb. 10'Iolani vs. KalaheoKalh, 1-0 (4-3 PKs)'Iolani
5Feb. 13(4) King Kekaulike vs. KalaniKaln, 4-0Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium
6Feb. 13(3) Waiakea vs. KalaheoWaik, 2-1 (OT)Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium
7Feb. 13(2) Kapolei vs. MililaniMil, 1-0Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium
8Feb. 13(1) Punahou vs. KaiserPun, 4-1Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium
9*Feb. 14Kaiser vs. King KekaulikeKais, 4-3Waipio
10*Feb. 14Kapolei vs. KalaheoKapo, 3-0Waipio
11Feb. 14Mililani vs. WaiakeaMil, 3-2Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium
12Feb. 14Punahou vs. KalaniPun, 2-1Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium
13*Feb. 15Kaiser vs. KapoleiKais, 2-0Waipio
14*Feb. 15Kalani vs. WaiakeaWaik, 5-4Waipio
15Feb. 15Mililani vs. PunahouPun, 3-2Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium
* — consolation

Division II

Match #DateMatchupTime/ScoresSite
1Feb. 13(1) Kapaa vs. Makua LaniKapa, 3-1Waipio
2Feb. 13(4) Aiea vs. Seabury HallSH, 5-1Waipio
3Feb. 13(2) Hawaii Prep vs. WaipahuHPA, 4-0Waipio
4Feb. 13(3) Pac-Five vs. KS-HawaiiKSH, 1-0Waipio
5*Feb. 14Makua Lanai vs. AieaML, 5-2Waipio
6*Feb. 14Waipahu vs. Pac-FiveP5, 3-1Waipio
7Feb. 14Hawaii Prep vs. KS-HawaiiHPA, 1-0Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium
8Feb. 14Kapaa vs. Seabury HallKapa, 3-0Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium
9*Feb. 15Makua Lani vs. Pac-FiveTie, 0-0Waipio
10*Feb. 15Seabury Hall vs. KS-HawaiiKSH, 4-0Waipio
11Feb. 15Kapaa vs. Hawaii PrepHPA, 2-0Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium
* — consolation


  1. Andrew Gaston February 15, 2020 2:51 pm

    Am I capable of tuning in to see the Hawaii High School D-1 game tonight at 7:00pm?

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