‘Iolani and Punahou struggle through the semifinals and will clash for the state championship. Photos by Jamm Aquino.
By Paul Honda
A little tight on space in the print edition, so here’s some extra goodies on Punahou’s 3-1 comeback win over Kealakehe in the semifinals of the JN Automotive/HHSAA Boys Soccer State Championships.
• Punahou was scoreless for 57 minutes against a big, fast Kealakehe squad.
Quintin Love’s goal gave Punahou all the insurance it needed with a 3-1 lead late in the match. He charged in and got past a defender who nearly got his head with a high kick while trying to clear the ball.
• An injury to sweeper Raydan Bala in the second half altered Kealakehe’s chemistry.
“We had to move Brandon (Sawada), our center-halfback, to sweeper,” coach Urs Leuenberger said. “But overall, we got beat by the better team.”
• Kealakehe had more goal kicks, 16-4, but Punahou dominated shots on goal 21-7. Buffanblu keeper Charley Yamamoto had four saves, including a leaping tip that prevented a score early in the match.
See the other D-I semifinal story, an 2-1 overtime win by ‘Iolani over Kamehameha, here.
Some info on Honokaa, which ousted defending D-II champ Kapaa 2-0.
• Honokaa had long been a Big Island Interscholastic Federation power, but had often played second fiddle to Hawaii Prep until Miranda’s labor-intensive efforts yielded fruit. This is Honokaa’s fifth trip to the state tourney; two years ago, the Dragons missed a chance to face Miranda’s son, then-MPI coach Marc Miranda, after losing to Kapaa in the semifinals.
The younger Miranda is now coach at UH-Hilo, while his dad continues to develop young talent from Waimea to Pauuilo.
“These are kids I’ve coached since they were 8 or 9,” Miranda said. “We try to possess it. We’ve got a lot of good midfielders.”
Several Dragons play in the off-season when they travel off-island for tournaments like the Kirk Banks.
MPI and Kapaa (9-4-1) met in Hawaii Prep’s preseason tourney. Mid-Pac scored two late goals for a 3-1 win.