It’s all about the drama every spring when The Queen’s Medical Center/HHSAA Boys Soccer State Championships roll around.
And we had a winner of game — full of inspiring effort — on Friday night in the Division I semifinals at Waipio Peninsula Soccer Park.
Two of the best soccer programs in the state put it on the line. With the score tied 2-all, fans watched as chance after chance of a chip pass fell into a crowd in front of the goal, only to eventually be kicked away out of harm’s way.
Who would win? Would Punahou, with its 20 D-I state titles in the 45 years of the event, get past Mililani? Or would the Trojans — who own six state championships — net the game-winner?
It’s one that could go either way and the fans know it. They ooh and ahh on every play as the contest heads to overtime.
Will someone make a fantastic play at the jewel of a stadium with its perfectly cut grass? Will someone make a costly mistake?
Will they go all out for the goal or play conservatively as to not give up a goal?
The winner will get a berth in the final Saturday night. The other will have heartbreak that may very well last until the 2019-20 season starts.
The suspense continued in overtime and then on to the second overtime. The Buffanblu had a hot chance, when Rayden Daijo broke down the left wing and sent a shot toward the far corner, but it went wide by a foot.
The unofficial scoreboard clock ticked down and the more it did, the chance incrased that it will be decided by penalty kicks.
Midway through the second overtime, Mililani’s Josh Ishizaki gets a foot on a ball from 10 yards out after Noah Ungos‘ throw-in. The shot, however, goes just high.
Part of the beauty of this match is you really can’t tell who is going to win.
Then, with two minutes left, the fans on both sides erupt as Mililani’s Ayden Lawes is issued a yellow card.
Moments later, Punahou’s Liam Nichols-Shipley, on a back pass from Matthew Fairfax, sends a screamer from 25 yards on the right side toward the far post and goalkeeper Nicholas Gaston dives to punch it away.
Tweet, tweet, tweet. The whistle blows to signal the end of the second OT. Penalty kicks are next.
Mililani misses its first shot and Punahou holds leads of 1-0, 2-0, 2-1, 3-1, 3-2, 4-2 and 4-3.
Up steps Punahou’s Micah Williams. There is a pause. No sound in the stadium. He has his fists at both sides, elbows out. Superman’s stance.
Boom. He kicks one into the high right corner. Mililani goalkeeper Nicholas Gaston, who was also called upon as a shooter earlier (the one who missed with a shot off the crossbar) had no chance.
Punahou wins the PKs 5-3. The drive for 21 is alive.
Afterward, Williams talked about the winning moment. That pause described earlier was on purpose.
“I wanted to develop my own style that would be uniquely me,” he said. “In track, when I do the triple jump, I look down the runway and take a deep breath, so I brought the same thing into my PKs where I look the goalie straight in the eyes, take a deep breath and wait a little.”
“I decide where I’m going to put it during the breath I take,” he added. “I don’t even know until I’m making the run up. The important part is it went in.”
On Saturday, the second-seeded and ILH champion Buffanblu (11-1-2) will face the winner of Friday’s late semifinal between ‘Iolani and fourth-seeded OIA champion Kapolei. Their last state title came in 2017.
For the Trojans, it was an excruciating loss.
“It stings,” said Lawes, who still had tears in his eyes 10 minutes after the match. “You never want to lose and it was tough how we lost. We came back hard, scoring two goals and felt really confident. It’s tough.”
HHSAA D-I State Boys Soccer
|1||Feb. 4||'Iolani vs. Kaiser||Iol, 4-0||'Iolani|
|2||Feb. 4||Hilo vs. Kalani||Kaln, 1-0||Hilo|
|3||Feb. 4||Baldwin vs. Pearl City||PC, 2-1 (5-3 PKs)||War Memorial Stadium|
|4||Feb. 4||Mililani vs. Campbell||Mil, 4-0||Mililani|
|5||Feb. 7||(2) King Kekaulike vs. Mililani||Mil, 2-0||Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium|
|6||Feb. 7||(4) Kapolei vs. Pearl City||Kapo, 1-0 (OT)||Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium|
|7||Feb. 7||(1) Hawaii Prep vs. 'Iolani||Iol, 2-1||Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium|
|8||Feb. 7||(3) Punahou vs. Kalani||Pun, 2-1||Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium|
|9*||Feb. 8||Pearl City vs. Hawaii Prep||HPA, 6-1||Waipio|
|10*||Feb. 8||King Kekaulike vs. Kalani||KK, 5-1||Waipio|
|11||Feb. 8||Mililani vs. Punahou||Pun, 3-2 (5-3 PKs)||Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium|
|12||Feb. 8||Kapolei vs. 'Iolani||Iol, 3-2||Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium|
|13*||Feb. 9||Hawaii Prep vs. King Kekaulike||KK, 3-1||Waipio|
|14*||Feb. 9||Mililani vs. Kapolei||Kapo, 5-1||Waipio|
|15||Feb. 9||Punahou vs. 'Iolani||Pun, 1-0 (OT)||Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium|
|* — consolation|
HHSAA D-II State Boys Soccer
|1||Feb. 7||(1) KS-Hawaii vs. Waialua||KSH, 2-1 (OT)||Waipio|
|2||Feb. 7||(4) Kapaa vs. Seabury Hall||Kapa, 2-1||Waipio|
|3||Feb. 7||(2) Saint Louis vs. Waipahu||StL, 3-0||Waipio|
|4||Feb. 7||(3) Kalaheo vs. Makua Lani||Kalh, 2-0||Waipio|
|5*||Feb. 8||Waialua vs. Seabury Hall||SH, 8-0||Waipio|
|6*||Feb. 8||Waipahu vs. Makua Lani||ML, 1-0 (PKs)||Waipio|
|7||Feb. 8||KS-Hawaii vs. Kapaa||Kapa, 3-1||Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium|
|8||Feb. 8||Saint Louis vs. Kalaheo||StL, 1-0||Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium|
|9*||Feb. 9||Seabury Hall vs. Makua Lani||ML, 2-1||Waipio|
|10*||Feb. 9||KS-Hawaii vs. Kalaheo||Kalh, 2-0||Waipio|
|11||Feb. 9||Kapaa vs. Saint Louis||Kapa, 1-0||Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium|
|* — consolation|