MANOA — Punahou completed an undefeated season with a 4-2 win over Kamehameha in the Stanford Carr Development/Hawaii High School Athletic Association Girls Water Polo title game Saturday evening.
A crowd of about 500 were on hand at the Duke Kahanamoku Aquatic Complex to witness the Buffanblu claim their eight straight state crown, 10th overall. It was the fourth meeting between the two teams this year.
"This season has been really fun and we've worked really hard," said senior Emma Choy. "Kamehameha is a great team and they got better over the season. I think we really worked on pushing to the very end and I think that showed tonight."
Choy scored two goals in the fourth quarter to help the Buffanblu hold off Kamehameha down the stretch.
"Me and my fellow senior Kelly Fricke, before the fourth quarter, we looked at each and other and were like ‘this is the last minutes of our high school career, let's just go and get it,'" she said.
With junior goalkeeper Emalia Eichelberger protecting the goal, the Buffanblu were able to hold the Warriors to two goals on 21 total shot attempts.
"Our defense has been really great this," said Choy. "Emilia Eichelberger is one of the top goalies in the nation. It's super nice to have her in the goal. We just want to try and keep the shots and sets to a minimum and just try to make them shoot from the outside because we know we have Emalia and she's really good."
The Buffanblu was also able to deny Kamehameha on two power play opportunities.
"We were really watching the stronger shooters and watching to counteract their shifts so that we can be shot blocking or making them shoot from the worse angle," said Choy.
Punahou drew first blood with a goal by sophomore Marissa Miller with 44 seconds left in the opening quarter.
Kamehameha even things up at the 4:35 mark of the second period with a straight shot goal from Madison Kauahi off the feed from Kiana St. Onge.
Fricke put the Buffanblu up for good with a goal from the left wing with 1:07 remaining in the first half. The Punahou senior finished with eight goals in the tournament to lead the Buffanblu in scoring.
"She's a great player," Choy said on Fricke. "I've been playing with her since seventh grade and we've been on varsity together since freshman year. It's been great playing with her and seeing her grow as a player. She's always so positive and it really helps the rest of the team."
Choy connected on her first shot attempt of the game to give Punahou a 3-1 lead with 4:10 left in regulation. The Punahou senior swam got her scoring opportunity be swimming down the left sideline to receive a pass from Natassia Dunn behind the Warriors' defense, and skipped the ball past keeper Jordan Ehara.
"Everyone was countering, releasing and getting up to the ball and that kind of help open me up," explained Choy. "All the shots that I had were thanks to my teammates and thanks to the counters that they had before to tire out the other team."
Kamehameha's Kayla Ganir got the Warriors back in it with a goal off the fingertips of Eichelberger with 2:47 left in the fourth quarter. A power play goal by Choy with 1:07 on the clock helped ice the game for the Buffanblu.
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