MANOA — Jordan Ehara made 12 saves in goal and Payton Bosque scored three times to lead unseeded Kamehameha to a 5-2 win over No. 2 Kahuku in a semifinal match of the Stanford Carr Development, LLC/Hawaii High School Athletic Association Girls Water Polo State Championships at the Duke Kahanamoku Aquatic Complex Friday night.
The Warriors improved to 7-4 on the season and 23-6 all-time in state tournament games. They will play top-seeded Punahou in the title game at 6 p.m. Saturday.
Ehara, one of just two seniors for Kamehameha, recorded eight of her saves after halftime.
"She saved the game for us," Warriors' first-year coach Randy Bart said of Ehara. "I mean, it was 5-2 and the defense was struggling and she was anchoring the defense. Half of her saves were 1-on-1's or man-downs, where (Kahuku) had the numbers advantage and to me they were all saves where the game was on the line. It wasn't like when it was 5-1, so she's unbelievable. Her leadership and her skills are invaluable."
Four of Ehara's saves came on consecutive Kahuku possessions in the third quarter. Protecting a one-goal lead, Ehara denied shots by Sophia Wilson, Isabella Walker, Grace Rittenhouse and finally a point blank attempt by Wilson.
Early in the fourth quarter, Ehara saved another close-range shot by Wislon, this one from about three feet away. Her last save might have been the most spectacular one. She stretched to block Walker's shot from just a few feet in front of the goal.
"Jordan probably played the game of her life," Kahuku coach Aaron Waldrip said.
Waldrip coached Ehara when she was just 12 years old and took her to an Olympic Development Program camp in Colorado.
"Her greatest asset is just strong legs and she's light, so she's able to be mobile and she was just tagging those high corners," Waldrip said. "It's really hard to beat that. You've got to do some really good shooting to beat that and we just couldn't do it. She blocked a couple of, what I thought were decent shots on our part, but if she wasn't on her A-game, they lose that game, but boy, she had a great game. I love that kid."
Bosque, a junior 2-meter player, scored the game's first goal just past the midpoint of the first quarter.
Kahuku tied it about a minute later on India Pyzel's goal from about 12 feet out on the left flank. The score remained tied until about six minutes into the second quarter when Bosque drew a kick out and scored off a pass from Sydney Story.
It was the first of four consecutive goals scored by the Warriors. Laakea Dedrick and Kaylen Nitahara scored from long-range late in the third quarter to give their team a 4-1 lead after three quarters and Bosque scored her final goal off a 5-meter penalty shot with 2:49 left to play.
Bart said with Kahuku dropping several defenders down on Bosque, it opened up shots for other players.
"They were zoning a lot, so we had some offenses to attack, we just weren't putting the ball in the goal," Bart said. "We were executing everything we wanted to do, we just weren't scoring the ball — and that happens."
The intermission allowed Kamehameha to regroup, Bart said, despite being up a goal.
"At halftime we were up, 2-1, and I told them that we were playing like we were down five," Bart said. "We needed to sust settle down and I think they got all the heebie-jeebies out of them and starting slowing down. We were throwing the ball around all over the place, actually throughout the game, but in that period during the third quarter we were actually connecting passes and that allowed us to attack the goal with some consistency."
Kea Kunz netted Kahuku's only other goal with 1:41 remaining to close out the scoring.
The Red Raiders, who have just one senior, had numerous offensive chances, but missed more a handful of shots high, or wide, of the goal.
"I couldn't have asked for better execution on our plays, we just couldn't put the ball in the net," Waldrip said. "I think it's just a young team. Nerves and high pressure on a young team is a tough combo. It's tough to keep the composure and I think we just didn't have the composure. If we had the composure, we win, because there were opportunities."
Kahuku fell to 14-2 with the loss and 25-14 all-time in state tournament matches. It will play Roosevelt for third place at 4:30 p.m. Saturday.
PUNAHOU POWERS PAST ROOSEVELT, 17-2
Marissa Miller scored five goals to help top-seeded Punahou to a 17-2 win over Roosevelt in the early semifinal Friday.
Saki Migliorato and Natassia Dunn had three goals each, Micaela Kauhane added two scores and four others scored once for the Buffanblu (10-0), who will try for their ninth consecutive state title and 11th overall Saturday night.
Taylor Brooks scored both goals for the Oahu Interscholastic Association runner-up Rough Riders (16-2).
Punahou, the Interscholastic League of Honolulu champion, had a first-round bye Wednesday and defeated Kaiser, 18-4, in Thursday's quarterfinal round.
Roosevelt opened its state tournament with a 14-4 win over Waialua Wednesday then survived a 10-9 overtime victory over Lahainaluna the following night.
The Buffanblu will face ILH runner-up Kamehameha in the 6 p.m. title game Saturday at the Duke Kahanamoku Aquatic Complex at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
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