By Paul Honda
Some post-match notes from the finals of the JN Automotive/HHSAA Boys Soccer State Championships.
• The battle between Punahou’s stellar defenders, Cody Sia and Jon Cloutier, can’t be overstated. They know how to slow ‘Iolani’s standout scorer, Nick Goo, as well as any defenders. The three are teammates with the Honolulu Bulls club.
“They have a solid defensive line,” Goo said after Punahou’s 1-0 win. “They tackle hard. They kind of know every move I’ll make.”
“We’ve been playing together since I was 11. We know how they play. Nick likes to cut a lot to his left foot,” Sia said. “One time he tried and I was able to stop it.”
Punahou coach David Trifonovitch enjoyed witnessing the battle, but also saw the toll his defenders took on the Raiders.
“You get a little tired, a little frustrated. You get shut down,” he said of Sia and Cloutier’s coverage of Goo. “I think that happened tonight.”
• Punahou junior goalkeeper Charlie Yamamoto felt vindicated.
A year ago, ‘Iolani scored almost at will against him on a day he has yet to forget.
“Our goalkeeper was injured, so I played. I took five goals at ‘Iolani,” Yamamoto said. “It was horrible and embarrassing. I wanted to show that I can play.”
Yamamoto had five saves in the shutout win and permitted just one goal in three matches at the state tourney.
• For Punahou, winning the girls and boys state crowns in back-to-back weeks was sweet, but for Trifonovitch, it was ecstasy.
His daughter, Kendra, was an integral part of the girls’ title run. Her dad’s first season as head coach of the boys team ended with a championship. All’s good in the Trifonovitch household.
• Mid-Pacific’s second Division II state title in three years was well-earned. Though there were several players who were on that title team from 2008, others were hungrier. Keegan Choy hadn’t scored a goal all season. He was on last year’s team that lost to eventual champ Kapaa.
“I wanted it badly since we lost last year,” the reserve senior said of his two goals in the 4-0 win over Honokaa.
• Rex Meier’s long kick from the midfield sideline was phenomenal. His boot went from the mauka sideline to the makai side of MPI’s goal, where Brendan Wesley-Smith and Kennedy Spencer leaped simultaneously. Wesley-Smith happened to get inside and the ball caromed off his face into the net. The kick was so powerful, fans standing in the line at the snack bar behind goal were just as astounded as Honokaa’s defense.
“It’s happened all season,” Meier said of his uncanny timing and accuracy in finding teammates.
• Honokaa’s emergence as a D-II power is the result of hard work at the age-group levels, where Dragons coach Maurice Miranda has invested time in years past.
“We’re young,” he said. “Well be back. (Mid-Pacific) has a lot of seniors, the core that won (a state title) two years ago. We definitely thought it was winnable, but unfortunately, they put away their chances and we didn’t.”
That senior experience lessened any need for a big pep talk from first-year Mid-Pacific coach Jayson Abe.
“There’s not a lot of words that need to be said for this kind of game,” said Abe, who replaced Marc Miranda, son of Honokaa coach Maurice Miranda, this season.
“We knew Honokaa would try to possess it, play the middle and not force it,” he said.
• Kamehameha reached the semifinals of the Division I state tournament. For a team that started 1-2, that’s a major achievement.
Ryan Ho, the Star-Bulletin’s All-State Football offensive player of the year, was busy with the football state championships. He turned out late for soccer, but was still a key player. But even back then, he was concerned about the slow start. Gradually, the Warriors regrouped.
“We struggled in the first half of the season,” coach Andrew Ah Nee said. “A lot of our injured guys came back.”