Punahou fans were singing “Happy Birthday” to Johnnie Dodge when he scored on a penalty kick in the 78th minute of Saturday night’s huge match at Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium.
It gave the Buffanblu a two-goal lead over Mililani in the Division I final of The Queen’s Medical Center/HHSAA Boys Soccer State Championships.
Little did the fans know, though, that Dodge’s goal turned out to be super important. That’s because Mililani, with just six seconds showing on a stopped official clock, made it a 3-2 game on Seth Uson‘s 40-yard line drive boomer.
It was too little, too late for the Trojans, who paid a steep price when goalkeeper Nicholas Gaston‘s infraction in the penalty area led to Dodge’s goal.
With the win, Punahou (11-1-1) wrapped up its 22nd state championship in the 47 years since the tournament’s inception. That’s a 47-percent clip. It was also the Buffanblu’s second in a row and fourth in the last five years.
They got it done with strong play from midfielders Dodge, Dominic Gusman and Jacob Moore and defenders Treyden Buder-Nakasone and Kaeo Wongbusarakum.
“Treyden is one of our senior captions,” Buffanblu coach David Trifonovitch said. “Stellar, very smart. Kaeo had to step in for Laakea (Salvani, who got a red card in a 2-1 semifinal win over Kalani on Friday. It’s funny, Kaeo did the same thing, stepping in for Treyden last year. He did such a fantastic job. And Dominic has been phenomenal all year. He draws so much attention, holds on to the ball, moves it around and makes passes to others. Even though he didn’t score, he’s super valuable. He was a threat. Every opponent had to know where he was and had to worry about him.”
Moore was constantly pressuring opponents with his offensive skills, too. He scored the game-winner against Kalani on Friday, and he assisted on Rayden Daijo‘s goal that made it a 2-1 game in the 26th minute on Saturday night.
Meanwhile, Dodge, aside from the game-winner, also assisted on the Buffanblu’s first goal in the second minute by Noah Edwards.
Had either of those early Punahou goals missed, Uson’s late shocker for Mililani could have sent it to OT.
“That was a beautiful goal,” Trifonovitch said about Uson’s effort. “I’m so glad it came with (six) seconds left. If that had come when it was 2-1 or in overtime, it would have been a whole different thing.”
Mililani didn’t stop pushing for an equalizer the whole second half when it was still 2-1, but it didn’t pan out.
“It was definitely difficult fighting off those waves,” Gusman said. “But our defense did a great job. They played amazing. Really held it down. We got that penalty at the end and it seemed like icing on the cake, but that banger they got made that penalty kick we got actually mean something. It was a sweet victory, especially for the seniors. It was nice to get this second in a row. It was a great fight by Mililani out there. Our tactics were on point and our coaches got it absolutely right and our boys gave it 100%.”
Added Dodge: “Scoring really early helped us and we played with the same intensity the whole time. I think that our finish level was very high this tournament.”
|1||Feb. 10||Hilo vs. Kaiser||Kais, 2-0||Hilo Bayfront|
|2||Feb. 10||Pearl City vs. Kalani||Kaln, 6-1||Kalani|
|3||Feb. 10||KS-Maui vs. Mililani||Mil, 2-0||KS-Maui|
|4||Feb. 10||'Iolani vs. Kalaheo||Kalh, 1-0 (4-3 PKs)||'Iolani|
|5||Feb. 13||(4) King Kekaulike vs. Kalani||Kaln, 4-0||Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium|
|6||Feb. 13||(3) Waiakea vs. Kalaheo||Waik, 2-1 (OT)||Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium|
|7||Feb. 13||(2) Kapolei vs. Mililani||Mil, 1-0||Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium|
|8||Feb. 13||(1) Punahou vs. Kaiser||Pun, 4-1||Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium|
|9*||Feb. 14||Kaiser vs. King Kekaulike||Kais, 4-3||Waipio|
|10*||Feb. 14||Kapolei vs. Kalaheo||Kapo, 3-0||Waipio|
|11||Feb. 14||Mililani vs. Waiakea||Mil, 3-2||Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium|
|12||Feb. 14||Punahou vs. Kalani||Pun, 2-1||Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium|
|13*||Feb. 15||Kaiser vs. Kapolei||Kais, 2-0||Waipio|
|14*||Feb. 15||Kalani vs. Waiakea||Waik, 5-4||Waipio|
|15||Feb. 15||Mililani vs. Punahou||Pun, 3-2||Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium|
|* — consolation|