'Iolani, Punahou settle for tie that gives Raiders ILH title

Jan. 29—A 1-1 tie was a win for both the 'Iolani and Punahou boys soccer teams on Saturday.

A 1-1 tie was a win for both the 'Iolani and Punahou boys soccer teams on Saturday.

The Raiders withstood a late-game surge from the host Buffanblu to hold on for the draw and clinch their first ILH championship since 2017.

'Iolani finished the season 6-1-3 and one point ahead of Punahou (6-2-2 ), which clinched a state berth with the tie.

Danny Jackson scored the Buffanblu goal in extra time to avoid a tiebreaker with Kamehameha, which beat Mid-Pacific 4-2 on Saturday to finish the season 6-3-1.

Emotions were all over the place after a highly competitive game.

"We're happy with the tie, " Punahou coach David Trifonovitch said. "Obviously we want to win the ILH, but we've gone numerous times into the state tournament as the second-place ILH team and won the state (2017 and 2011 ), so it's just a matter of regrouping now and figuring out what our mistakes are."

Punahou won the previous four ILH titles.

"The rivalry between 'Iolani and Punahou is strong, " 'Iolani co-head coach Travis Watanabe said. "Us coming out here playing well going into the next phase of our season was an important aspect for us. We wanted to come out and play well."

With much of the state pounded by rain Saturday afternoon, the skies above Alexander Field stayed dry enough to play most of the game without anything more than a light drizzle.

Chances were few and far between in the first half until the Raiders scored in the final two minutes.

Senior Noah Scherman scored off a free-kick attempt that ricocheted off the top of the crossbar but surprisingly stayed in play for Scherman to knock in while battling a Punahou defender.

"Kaleb Abara told me to take (the free kick ), but I told him that I trust him to put it on frame and not shoot it over and I told him I'd follow up on it, " Scherman said. "He hit the crossbar, the keeper didn't touch it and everyone thought it went out, but I saw it spinning back in bounds so I stood there almost right on the line with the goal and was able to 50-50 their center defender and I got a head on it and it went in."

Outside of a shot that bounced off the crossbar roughly 30 minutes in, Punahou couldn't build much of an offense in the first half.

That changed in the second half down a goal.

The Raiders were whistled for a couple of questionable yellow cards as the Buffanblu fought to tie it up.

It finally happened in extra time just after the referee yelled there were five minutes remaining.

Jackson found a crossing pass on his foot and ripped a shot in the bottom right corner of the net to set off an enthusiastic Punahou celebration.

"He's our playmaker, " Trifonovitch said. "He keeps us composed. I was asking him to hold a little more, not attack so much, and he was able to hold on that one as the ball came that he ran into as opposed to being too far in."

Punahou will open the Motiv8 Foundation /HHSAA Boys Soccer State Championships a week from Monday playing in the first round for the first time since 2017, when it went on to beat Kalani in the final.

'Iolani will get the seeded bye after losing in the first round in the past two state tournaments.

"Making sure that we are ready to go physically and mentally, " Watanabe said. "We will tidy some stuff and be ready to go on Thursday (Feb. 9 )."