KAPALAMA HEIGHTS — Hunter DeTurk scored twice to lead visiting Punahou to a 3-0 win over Kamehameha in an Interscholastic League of Honolulu Division I boys soccer game at Kunuiakea Stadium Wednesday afternoon.
The Buffanblu improved to 6-1-1 with 19 championship points and hold a three-point lead over second place Iolani (5-1-1, 16 points) atop the league standings.
It was Punahou's first win since Dec. 17 when it defeated Damien, 8-1. Since then, it suffered a 1-0 loss to Division II PAC-5 on Dec. 20 and tied Mid-Pacific Saturday, 1-1.
"We're actually kind of coming out a slump," Buffanblu coach David Trifonovitch said. "We went 5-0 in the beginning and seemed to be playing OK and then with the holidays and we have this thing called the ‘G-term,' where a bunch of the kids travel, and it just kind of threw us all off, so it's good to kind of get composed again."
Outside of the first 20 minutes of the game Punahou largely controlled the possession and limited Kamehameha's scoring chances.
"It was our best game in a couple of games, but just the enthusiasm and the attitude of the players was good," Trifonovitch said. "We were starting to give up points and now hopefully we can make a run at the end to get into the playoffs, because what we'd really like to do, is get in the playoffs, so it's a good start for getting back on the horse."
It was the Warriors who had the better run of play early on. Just a few minutes into the game, freshman Luke Hamacon had a chance to put his team ahead but his shot off a cross missed just wide left.
Midway through the first half, senior Kaimipono Halemano — the team's leading scorer with 10 goals this season — made a run down the right side before serving a cross into the box for a sliding Ethan Ahuna, whose kick narrowly missed just left of the goal.
About five minutes later, the Buffanblu opened the scoring on Sotaro Abe's second goal of the season.
The play began when fullback Peyton Sommer sent a long pass deep into the 18-yard box and to the chest of forward Duncan McKenna. McKenna dropped off a pass to Abe, who lined a shot into the lower right corner.
"He's my mate," Abe said of McKenna. "We have these ‘mates' on our team and we always say, ‘reward me,' and we always help each other out in practice. This time I was lucky enough to be on the receiving end."
Punahou got its second goal in the 32nd minute when DeTurk took advantage of a misplayed ball by the Kamehameha defense and sprung free for a one-on-one against the goalkeeper. DeTurk's low, driving kick found the bottom left corner of the goal from about 12 yards out.
"I was kind of just sitting on the back side and I saw David Tamura dribble down and he had a defender following him," said DeTurk, a senior forward. "I was just kind of sitting there waiting, waiting, waiting and as soon as I saw the cross, I started going in and I just saw the back left corner open and I popped it in right there."
By then, the Warriors had lost all momentum.
"We should have been 3-nil early, but you know, that's soccer. You either put them in or you don't, but that's the beauty of the game and that's also what makes the game, so we hate it and we love it at the same time," Kamehameha coach Jorge Barbosa said.
Barbosa lamented the early scoring chances that went by the wayside.
"We gave those opportunities away," Barbosa said. "Had we capitalized on those opportunities it would have been a different game, we believe. I mean, we don't know because you can say that in hindsight, but we came in strong and I think once they scored the first goal on us we kind of deflated a little bit."
Depth, or in Kamehameha's case, a lack thereof, proved to be a big factor after halftime. While Punahou made substitution after substitution to keep fresh legs in the game, the Warriors wore down.
"This is a treacherous league and you have a team like Punahou where they just keep rolling players in; Us, we're trying to build players here," Barbosa said. "We have great kids, great attitudes, but they're not really soccer players — some of them — so we lack the numbers, we lack the experience — what I call soccer DNA — we just don't have that. Hard desire? Yes — and we love the boys because of that — but we're just not as deep as a Punahou or an Iolani, but they're not going to give up; our boys don't give up."
The Buffanblu took advantage of the fatigued Warriors, adding an insurance goal by DeTurk in the 63rd minute on a breakaway poke into the bottom left corner of the net.
"There were a couple that (Kamehameha) should have put away and they didn't, so a little bit of luck carried us through and then I don't know if they got discouraged or they got tired, but they just started playing balls to us and just kind of hitting them out and that's when it was a little more comfortable for us when that happened," Trifonovitch said.
As part of Punahou's deep rotation, DeTurk played both in the midfield and up top. He said the numerous substitutions ultimately played to his team's advantage.
"It's enormous because as soon as you get fatigued your style of play gets hindered and just being able to have a calm, composed mind really makes a difference," DeTurk said.
The Buffanblu got a clean sheet from its defense and junior goalkeeper Ian Withy-Berry, who registered five saves.
The Warriors were shutout for the first time this season and fell to 4-3-1. They sit in third place in the four-team division with 13 points.
Punahou also beat Kamehameha in their first-round meeting on Dec. 7, 4-1.
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