Punahou took down ILH rival Iolani, 5-3, to cap off an undefeated season and a seventh consecutive title at the Stanford Carr Development/HHSAA Girls Water Polo State Championships.
"It feels so amazing. We're so lucky to have such a good coach (Ken Smith) and the way he coached us just helped to put us to the top," said Kiessling.
"We've never had a team we've enjoyed working with more than this one," said Punahou head coach Ken Smith. "Because of their work ethic, and their attitude throughout the entire season. They've been absolutely remarkable."
Following a Liz Barr score midway through the final period that tied the score at 3-all, the Buffanblu repsonded in crunch time as tournament Most Outstanding Player Roxy Kiessling received a pass deep in the hole and managed to finish despite two Raiders' players closely guarding her, putting Punahou back up by a point.
"They just threw it in (to me), and I (thought) I might as well just power through it and try to get it in (goal)," laughed Kiessling of her go-ahead score. "I just shot it as hard as I could."
Then, with under two minutes left in regulation, Amy Bolan tucked a shot from about 20 feet out past the Iolani goalie for an insurance score to effectlively seal the win.
While Kiessling did her damage offensively, the work in goal put forth by sophomore Emalia Eichelberger defensively was arguably just as key. Eichelberger allowed just 10 goals in three tournament games and was named to the All-Tournament team.
"Emaila, she is amazing," said Kiessling. "She did such a good job in goal. She has been amazing all year and just working hard in practice, so I'm not surprised that she blocked so many (shots on goal)."
"Emalia has been a wall for us the entire time," said Smith echoing Kiessling's sentiment. "She's been awesome."
Natassia Dunn scored at the 6:26 mark and Kiessling added another with 27 seconds left in the period, as the Buffanblu jumped out to a 2-0 lead. Iolani countered with a score by Kelsie Kodama at the 4:49 mark of the second to cut the lead in half at the intermission.
Punahou extended the lead back to a pair on a Kiessling goal at the 4:51 mark of the third, but saw the margin trimmed right back to a single goal as Barr scored her second goal of the game with 1:21 left in the third.
"You know they are going to come to play, you know they are going to battle," said Smith in praise of Iolani. "They are well coached, they train hard, and it just makes it exciting cause you just can't take anything for granted."
The Buffanblu have won nine state championships since the inception of the tournament in 2004. All eleven titles have been won by ILH schools (Kamehameha-Kapalama won in 2006, Iolani in 2007).
"I'm just extremely thankful," said Kiessling reflecting on her fourth state title in her high school career. "This has been an amazing year, and with my four years at Punahou its just a great way to end it."
Stanford Carr Development/HHSAA Girls Water Polo State Championships
All-Tournament Team (as selected by the HHSAA)
Saki Migliorato, Punahou
Kiana Harpstrite, Iolani
Elizabeth Barr, Iolani
Kahea Sayles-Kahaulelio, Kahuku
Nohea Sayles-Kahaulelio, Kahuku
Chanel Long, Mililani
GK: Emalia Eichelberger, Punahou
Most Outstanding Player: Roxanna Kiessling, Punahou
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