[ UH SOCCER ]
Hawaii may be the favorite, but the WAC is up for grabs
Idaho at Hawaii
When: Tomorrow, 7 p.m.
Where: Waipio Peninsula Soccer Park Stadium
Series record: UH leads, 1-0-0.
Last meeting: The Wahine defeated the Vandals 1-0 on the road Sept. 7, 2001.
Notes: UH is 4-4-1 in both WAC openers and WAC home openers. ... The Rainbow Wahine are 19-9-3 in WAC home matches.
Hawaii is the coaches' preseason choice to win the Western Athletic Conference regular-season title, but nonconference match results indicate the race is going to be wide open.
Hawaii coach Pinsoom Tenzing and Boise State coach Steve Lucas agree.
"The conference matches bring a different level of energy. Some teams, including us, are struggling, but we'll see what happens," said Tenzing.
"We are battered and bruised. I would like to say we are ready, but we are not because of the injuries."
Louisiana Tech and Boise State are the only teams starting WAC play with winning nonconference records.
The conference race and seedings for the postseason tournament will be decided in a short season. Each team plays seven conference matches, which doesn't leave a lot of room for error.
The top six teams qualify for the WAC tournament, Nov. 3-5, at Boise. The top two finishers receive a first-round bye.
"All that stuff we went through (in preseason) doesn't really mean anything. There are a lot of unknowns and everybody is 0-0," said Lucas.
"Hawaii has played tough teams and we know they will be very good. We're doing a good job defensively, but we're trying to find a rhythm on offense," said Lucas.
The Rainbow Wahine start their 10th WAC campaign against newcomer Idaho (1-6 on the road) tomorrow at 7 p.m. at the Waipio Peninsula Soccer Park Stadium.
The Hawaii (3-6-2) offense revolves around center midfielders Jessica Domingo and Gabina Bohlman, both not 100 percent after being injured in the season opener.
"The dilemma is whether to rest them and get them out of shape or work them and risk getting them more hurt. It's a tough balance to strike," said Tenzing.
Striker Adria Campbell is dealing with a sprained left ankle and has missed two of the last three matches. Whether she plays against Idaho will be decided tomorrow.
Freshman striker Aimee Cohen is out for the year with a knee injury. Freshman striker Taryn Fukuroku did not practice earlier this week due to a stiff neck suffered in a match on the mainland last week.
Just who will join Natasha Kai up top if Fukuroku can't go will have Tenzing and his staff scrambling.
Here is a capsule look at the WAC teams in the order they play Hawaii with the overall record in parentheses:
Coach: Peter Showler, first season, 2-9-0 (.182).
2004 record: 3-14-0 overall, 1-8, 10th in Sun Belt Conference.
Players to watch: Jenny Springer, junior striker; Lindsay Smith, senior goalkeeper; Caitlyn Wicks, senior midfielder.
Outlook: The Vandals seek improvement under new head coach Peter Showler after a 3-14 season in 2004. So far, it has been a struggle. The Vandals have been outscored 20-8 in winning just two of 11 matches. Springer has half of Idaho's goals. Smith set a school career record for saves Saturday, making two against Eastern Washington, bringing her total to 265. The Vandals make their WAC debut against UH.
Play UH: Tomorrow, 7 p.m., Waipio Peninsula Soccer Park.
Boise State (6-4-2)
Coach: Steve Lucas, sixth season, 42-53-7 (.446).
2004 record: 9-8-2 overall, 2-4-2, 7th in WAC.
Players to watch: Kim Parker, senior goalkeeper; Nicole Coleman, junior striker; Randi Baker, freshman striker.
Outlook: The Broncos return six starters from a team that set school records for fewest goals allowed and most shutouts in a season in 2004. They hope to generate more offense after scoring 18 goals in 19 matches a year ago when the they had the second-best finish in school history. The Broncos host San Jose State tomorrow to start the WAC.
Play UH: Sunday, 5 p.m., Waipio Peninsula Soccer Park.
Louisiana Tech (7-3-0)
Coach: Jennifer Soileau, second season, 7-13-2 (.364).
2004 record: 0-10-2 overall as an independent.
Players to watch: Julie Hadzic, senior midfielder; Brittany Davis, freshman defender.
Outlook: Only two players return from Tech's first year of soccer. Despite the turnover, Soileau has molded 19 freshmen, one senior and a sophomore into a winning team. The Lady Techsters have outscored opponents 42-8, but have not played a demanding schedule. After going 0-10-2 a year ago, Soileau picked her opponents carefully this year. Freshman strikers Emily Cleaveland and Kodi Bethay lead the offense with nine and five goals, respectively. The Lady Techsters travel to Utah State for their first WAC match Sunday.
Play UH: Oct. 14 at Ruston, La.
Utah State (3-6-3)
Coach: Heather Cairns, third season, 17-18-3 (.487).
2004 record: 6-11-1 overall, 4-3-1, 7th in Big West Conference.
Players to watch: Charity Weston, junior midfielder; Dana Peart, sophomore striker; Liz Masson, senior defender.
Outlook: Continued improvement is expected in Cairns' third season with the return of 17 letterwinners, including seven starters, and five of the top seven goal scorers back. However, the Aggies have not been consistent on offense, averaging just one goal a game while giving up 1.7 per match. The Aggies host Louisiana Tech on Sunday in their first WAC match.
Play UH: Oct. 16 at Logan, Utah.
San Jose State (0-9-2)
Coach: Dave Siracusa, second season, 5-22-3 (.217).
2004 record: 5-13-1 overall, 2-5-1, 8th in WAC.
Players to watch: Nicole Irwin, sophomore striker; Adrienne Herbst, senior goalkeeper; Liz Behlen, freshman striker.
Outlook: The Spartans haven't been to the WAC tournament since they won in 2000. With an offense that has produced more than one goal just once in 11 matches, it will take an incredible turnaround to end that drought. Tightening up a defense that has allowed more than two goals a match would help. The Spartans start WAC play at Boise State tomorrow.
Play UH: Oct. 21 at San Jose, Calif.
Coach: Terri Patraw, seventh season, 57-61-5 (.484).
2004 record: 2-15-1 overall, 0-8, 8th in WAC.
Players to watch: Annie Baxter, senior striker; Megan Tarpenning, senior goalkeeper; Lauren Kinneman, junior midfielder.
Outlook: Patraw's recruiting class was ranked best in the WAC by Soccer Buzz. Two members of the class -- Miranda Montejo and Randee Robinson -- are Nevada's leading scorers. The Wolf Pack already have set a school record for most wins in a season. The Wolf Pack host Fresno State on Sunday in their WAC opener.
Play UH: Oct. 28, 7 p.m., Waipio Peninsula Soccer Park.
Fresno State (3-6-1)
Coach: Steve Springthorpe, second season, 8-15-5 (.375).
2004 record: 5-9-4 overall, 2-3-3, 6th in WAC.
Players to watch: Cortney Sobrero, junior striker; Kortney Lewis, senior striker; Rochelle Jagdeo, junior defender.
Outlook: The Bulldogs have qualified for 10 consecutive WAC tournaments and hope to benefit from the experience 11 freshmen gained a year ago to qualify again. Their top two scorers are back. Sobrero and Lewis each have three goals, but five of their six defeats have been shutouts. Tomorrow's match against national power Santa Clara is a huge test for FSU, a team that historically plays better in October (25-16-5 the last five years). The Bulldogs play Nevada in Reno to start conference play Sunday.
Play UH: Oct. 30, 5 p.m., Waipio Peninsula Soccer Park.