POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, May 08, 2011
It's the only way to describe the season for the Punahou girls water polo team.
It's the only way to describe the careers of the four Buffanblu seniors.
Led by senior center Brailey Hirose-Hulbert's four goals, Punahou capped a fourth consecutive unbeaten varsity season by holding off Kamehameha 8-7 in yesterday's final of the Hawaii High School Athletic Association champion at Nae'ole Aquatics Facility on the Kamehameha-Hawaii campus in Keaau. The Buffanblu finished 11-0 this season and the Class of 2011 finishes 44-0 in varsity play, 64-0 when including two intermediate championships.
It was the closest margin of victory of any of the eight state finals, and the closest margin of victory for the Buffanblu since beating the Warriors 9-6 last month in an Interscholastic League of Honolulu match.
"It was a really tough game," said Hirose-Hulbert, named the tournament MVP. "Kamehameha always plays really well.
"There is a lot of pressure (trying to stay undefeated), but that fuels us, too. Being undefeated is a reward for all the work we've put in."
Punahou led 8-4 after three quarters, with Naomi Ng's goal with 1:11 in the third proving to be the game-winner.
Kamehameha (8-4), seeking its second title — it won its first in 2006 — came out strong in the fourth with three unanswered goals. Brittany Garrigan scored twice and Kawena Bikle scored with 2:34 left as the Warriors closed to 8-7.
The Buffanblu defense held, with junior goalie Courtney Miller "coming up big, making some nice saves at the end," Punahou coach Ken Smith said. "We knew it was going to be a tough game and Kamehameha was even tougher in the fourth.
"Overall, I'm really happy. We never panicked. We played really well and they played really well."
It was the sixth state title for Punahou and the fourth when seeing ILH rival Kamehameha across the pool.
"I'm really proud of my girls," Warriors coach Curt Ai said. "We had opportunities at the end, but the shots didn't go in. We're a very young team and our young girls grew up tonight.
"We had Punahou in a game they hadn't experienced in a while. A little more time in the game, it might have been a different outcome."
Hurting Kamehameha was the loss of senior utility Kehau Ai — the coach's daughter — who was hit with her third major (penalty) early in the fourth and was disqualified.
"We missed her leadership, but we went to our bench and they played well," Curt Ai said. "And I have to say our goalie (senior Chloe Shaw-Limery) was phenomenal."
KAHUKU 11, KAMEHAMEHA-HAWAII 9
Keola Kahaulelio scored five goals and the second-seeded Red Raiders (16-1) rebounded from their first loss of the season in fending off the fourth-seeded Warriors (11-2) for third place.
"It was a really good game," Kahuku coach Makana Leiataua said. "That was a tough loss (5-4 to Kamehameha in Friday's semifinals), but we knew we had to fight back.
"I think (Kamehameha-Hawaii) felt they should have been the second seed and we wanted to prove that we deserved the higher seed."
LAHAINALUNA 9, MILILANI 7
Gina-Bella Mataafa scored six goals and the Lunas (12-1) held off the Trojans (13-4) for fifth place.
Mililani closed to within 8-7 on Erika Edwards' goal with 1:18 to go. Mataafa iced the win with her final goal with 46 seconds left.