It took a Mountan of an effort, but the Punahou Buffanblu did the improbable.
The unseeded Buffanblu got a hat trick from senior midfielder Mountan Mitchell to blank Kaiser 5-0 in the Division I final of the JN Automotive/HHSAA Boys Soccer State Championships last night before about 2,200 fans at Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium.
Mitchell’s performance was the first hat trick in the D-I tourney final since 1981, when Souvanno Phitchanpheng scored three times to lead Kaimuki to its lone state crown.
"Thank the Lord. I feel great. I feel better than yesterday," Mitchell said. "We just trained extra hard the two weeks we had off, and it paid off."
Punahou, the runner-up from the Interscholastic League of Honolulu, finished 11-2-1.
Mitchell scored twice in a 4-minute span before halftime to break a scoreless battle.
"I was ready to start thinking about, ‘What do I do? It’s 0-0 at halftime.’ Next thing I know, I’m saying, ‘It’s 2-0, let’s protect this,’ " coach David Trifonovitch said. "I haven’t seen a performance like (Mitchell’s) in a championship match in a long time. Dominant. He deserves it. He plays with so much guts and determination."
The title is Punahou’s 18th in boys soccer and gave the program its second in as many years under Trifonovitch.
"It’s a great group of guys. They bonded together from the get-go," Trifonovitch said. "They almost liked each other too much sometimes. The chemistry was very, very good."
F: Mountan Mitchell, Punahou (Most outstanding)
Kaiser (14-3-2), the Oahu Interscholastic Association runner-up, had never played in a state final.
"Overall, we had a great campaign. Nobody thought we’d go this far," Kaiser coach Marco Antonio Gloria said. "We’re just not as deep with our star players, but they had a hell of a time with us in the first 25 minutes. We just couldn’t put them away. We ran out of fumes in the end."
The Cougars never backed down despite playing without leading scorer Chico Taylor. The senior sat out after being yellow-carded twice in the semifinals.
"Any time you lose a player who’s your leading scorer, it affects you," Trifonovitch said. "They came at us pretty hard. We knew if we held them off long enough, eventually, we could break them down."
The Cougars’ speed was unlike any the Buffanblu saw in the tourney, but they missed on all eight shots on goal before the half.
"I don’t think the score reflected on how well Kaiser played," said Punahou goalkeeper Charlie Yamamoto, who had seven of his eight saves in the first half. "They got speed. You watch it on film and you don’t think they’re that fast, but they’re that fast.
"Kaiser went to overtime last night, so I think they were tired," said senior Scott Granger, referring to Kaiser’s sudden-death upset win over No. 1 seed Kamehameha.
The Buffanblu didn’t score until the final minutes of the half. Mitchell pushed hard on the right side on a breakaway and tapped a shot in from 10 yards out to give Punahou a 1-0 lead at the 36-minute mark.
Four minutes later, Punahou spread out and seemed willing to let Kaiser sit back as the end of the half neared. Instead, Mitchell blasted a shot that bounced over the head of Kaiser goalkeeper Lorenzo Reves, stunning the crowd. Punahou led 2-0 at the break.
Punahou’s momentum continued into the second half with a goal by Granger from 15 yards out at the 47-minute mark.
"Quintin Love, he did the work and got the ball on the outside. He crossed it in and it hit off a defender and I was lucky enough to be at the right place at the right time," said Granger, who returned from an illness to make a difference in the semifinal and final.
Yamamoto, a senior, had seven saves in the first half.
"Our team knew what to do. Mountan carried us as a team," Yamamoto said. "He played a great game. I missed a couple, but we got 10 other guys to back me up."
Punahou finished with 24 shots on goal. Kaiser had 10.
Reves tallied seven saves.
Kaiser could lament over the missed shots of the first half.
"It could have gone either way. That would’ve changed the whole game," Gloria said. "A bit unfortunate, but I’m proud of them. They did very well and we’ll be back here next year."
KAPOLEI 3, KAMEHAMEHA 2
The Hurricanes (12-6-1) controlled the first half, with Jesse George (16th minute) and Malu Carmack (36th) scoring a goal each to secure third place over the Warriors (8-3-2) in the Division I tournament.
Adrian Yunson scored again in the 73rd minute for Kapolei.
Kawai Davis (45th) and Braden Prothero scored for Kamehameha.
MILILANI 1, HILO 1
Jake Sagami scored in the 57th minute to put the Trojans (13-3-3) ahead, but Johnathan Perez struck back for the Vikings (15-2-2) in the 67th to tie the game.
Roosevelt 3, Waiakea 0
The Rough Riders (9-6-4) dominated the Warriors (13-4-2) in the consolation final in a shutout.
The Star-Advertiser’s Jason Kaneshiro contributed to this report.