In a tournament noted for stunning upsets, the Interscholastic League of Honolulu champion is still standing.
Punahou destroyed Kealakehe 4-0 in the Division I second semifinal of the Outrigger Hotels and Resorts Boys Soccer State Championships at Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium on Friday night, earning a spot in the championship for the 26th time in the 40 years of the tournament. The Buffanblu have won 19 of those title contests.
With ‘Iolani and top seed Mililani falling on the second day, the Buffanblu knew that they would be the next domino to fall in a crazy tournament if they didn’t take care of Kealakehe early.
The Waveriders are sold on the Buffanblu as state champions.
“Today, we met our limit,” Kealakehe coach Urs Leuenberger said. “That is a fantastic Punahou team that just outplayed us at every position. There is going to be a time when you are going to meet the better team and tonight we did.”
Punahou pounced on Kealakehe from the start, with Kendall Nishina going top shelf for the Buffanblu’s first goal in the 11th minute. Blaine Granger flicked one in three minutes later and Seann Lau headed one in off a corner kick in the 23rd minute.
The Waveriders arrived late because of traffic, and didn’t really begin competing with the Buffanblu until the second half, when they were already down 3-0.
Punahou’s fourth goal was its prettiest.
Kealakehe missed its best chance of the match when Punahou defenders cleared a ball off the line –- Leuenberger still considers it a goal for his team — and the Buffanblu were at the other end in the blink of an eye. Alec Dinsmore buried a cross for Punahou’s fourth tally.
“Alec Dinsmore came through for us,” Punahou keeper Henry Engel said. “We knew we had to start fast and we did, so we could rotate a lot of people in. That was important.”
The Buffanblu have not lost a match since Jan. 11, when Kamehameha surprised them. Punahou is 6-0-1 since, outscoring opponents 18-1.