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Gusman, Buffanblu emptied the tank in D1 final

Pain would not keep Dominic Gusman out of the final match of the season.

The Punahou junior played through a sprained MCL and gave the Buffanblu a boost in their 1-0 overtime state title win over Iolani last Saturday night at Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium in the Queen's Medical Center Division I Boys Soccer State Championships.

Punahou won its 21st state crown with the victory and Gusman earned Most Outstanding Player honors on the all-tournament team.

Gusman scored a goal in both of the Buffanblu's first two matches of the tournament — a 2-1 quarterfinal win over Kalani and a 3-2 semifinal win against Mililani that went to a penalty kick shootout — but went down with a knee injury in the first half against the Trojans.

Punahou led 2-0 at the half against Mililani, but the Trojans rallied without Gusman possessing the ball on offense to force two overtime periods and a shootout. The Buffanblu ultimately converted on all of their kicks in the shootout to reach the D1 final against the the Raiders in the two teams' fourth meeting of the season.

It appeared that Gusman wouldn't play against the Raiders when he wasn't introduced in the starting lineups, but he pushed through the injury and checked into the contest in the 17th minute.

Gusman said after the match that he wanted to be out there for his teammates.

Punahou's Dominic Gusman works the ball against Iolani in the Division I state final. Wesley Tam | Special to SL    Purchase image

"It was a little bit sore today, but I wanted to push through to be there for the boys," said Gusman, who normally operates from the right win. "This one was for the seniors, this was for them. Last year we got knocked out (in the semis) but this year we didn't want that to be happen so we did all could to win this."

Gusman's presence on the field helped Punahou steal momentum away from an Iolani team that started the night as the aggressors on offense.

After Iolani had seven straight scoring opportunities, Punahou was able to put pressure on Iolani in the 20th minute when Gusman found a seam down the right side of the pitch. Later in the 27th minute Gusman set up a good look for Jacob Moore that would have netted a goal if it wasn't for a spectacular sliding tackle in the 6-yard box by Iolani's Branson Suzuki.

Gusman also had a shot stopped by Iolani senior defender Lincoln Oishi in the 39th minute and set up a header opportunity for 6-foot-4 Matthew Fairfax in the 58th minute that was wide right of the goal.

"Dominic almost didn't play," said Punahou coach David Trifonovitch. "He got injured really bad, he sprained his MCL. Wasn't sure if he was going to play at all, but (the medical staff) said there was still stability so he threw on his brace and he went out there and gutted it out and he did some good stuff for us."

Gusman's biggest contribution came late in the extra period when he got loose down the left sideline. Iolani tried to clear the ball, but the attempt ricochet towards Punahou senior Max Moonier for the game-winning goal in the 87th minute.

Moonier said Gusman's toughness exemplified what this season's Punahou team is about.

"I think it just shows the spirit of our team, he was hurt, but he wanted to come in. He needed to come in. We wanted to give everything for each other."

Iolani coach Chris Lee also noted the impact that Gusman made for the Buffanblu.

"He's one of their key players," said Lee. "For him to grind it out with an injury like that, I'm sure it was uplifting for them."

Gusman wasn't the only person that was a notable omission from the starting lineups. Center back Treyden Buder-Nakasone also got hurt against the Trojans, but was held out of the state final. Even though he didn't play against the Raiders, Trifonovitch said Buder-Nakasone was still able to contribute in other areas.

"Treyden, our center back, he came down with this really bad (injury). He was in the hospital last night. He got out here, he was here, but he didn't play," Trifonovitch said.

"He talked to the boys before the game and said ‘you know what, leave it all out there. There ain't nothing to leave in the tank.' and that's what he did. He ended up in the hospital because he left it out there the night before."

Punahou's Treyden Buder-Nakasone dribbles the ball in a regular season match against Saint Louis.

The cool thing about the match was if Iolani had been the victor, a similar story would have been written about the Raiders.

Oishi, who would have taken home the top honor on the all-tourney team if Iolani won, played against Punahou with a broken hand. The Raiders also lost forward Elijah Brown to a gruesome arm injury in their 2-1 quarterfinal win over reigning co-champion Hawaii Prep.

Moonier had nothing but respect for the Raiders after the match.

“Every time we’ve played them, they put up a great fight. They should hold their heads high.”

Reach Michael Lasquero at [email protected].



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