The Punahou Buffanblu didn’t have a perfect regular season.
They’re just having an immaculate postseason. Senior Mountan Mitchell made sure it continued, knocking in two goals as the unseeded Buffanblu ousted No. 2 seed Kapolei 3-0 last night in the Division I semifinals of the JN Automotive/Hawaii High School Athletic Association Boys Soccer State Championships.
"I’m pretty tired, but stoked. We’re pretty confident. We trained extra hard the week before," Mitchell said. "All the boys I looked up to are gone. It’s our turn now, so hopefully we can do it now."
A crowd of about 1,000 watched at Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium. Punahou (10-2-1), the runner-up from the Interscholastic League of Honolulu, will face another unseeded upstart, Kaiser, for the state crown tonight in a 7 p.m. match.
"We haven’t played Kaiser, but I’ve seen them play a lot. I like their forwards," Punahou coach David Trifonovitch said. "Chico (Taylor) is good in the air. He impresses me."
Taylor won’t play tonight, though, after drawing two yellow cards last night in Kaiser’s win over No. 1 Kamehameha.
Punahou, the defending champion, has a mix of youthful talent and four key seniors. Last year, the Buffanblu had the benefit of an opening-round bye after winning the ILH.
"This time, we’ve played an extra game, but our opponent has, also," Trifonovitch noted.
Mitchell, a talented two-sport player, was among Punahou’s top wide receivers on the football team. However, a litany of injury problems to quarterbacks limited his touches. The soccer season has turned out to be a godsend for the 5-foot-9 midfielder. Last night, he tapped in an easy goal off a perfect cross from Don Park to give the Buffanblu a 1-0 lead in the 32nd minute.
Eight minutes later, Quintin Love scored at point-blank range on a cross from Kelvin Naito on a breakaway, and Punahou led 2-0.
The Buffanblu dominated the first half with nine shots on goal to Kapolei’s two.
Mitchell added his second score in the 45th minute with a beautiful header from 15 yards out off a lob from Ian Matsukawa.
"Both of them were nice crosses," Mitchell said. "It was kind of like a fade route, a back-shoulder fade. My feet were pretty sloppy, but my head made up for it."
BOYS STATE SOCCER
At Waipio Peninsula Soccer Complex