[ RAINBOW WAHINE SOCCER ]
Rainbow Wahine to play for first
The Hawaii women play at San Jose State tomorrow in a soccer match with first place at stake and one week left in the Western Athletic Conference regular season.
The teams are 3-1 in conference and the Spartans are the biggest surprise so far.
With all eight teams saddled with at least one loss, a second defeat makes it that much harder to finish in the top two spots and earn a first-round bye in the postseason tourney.
The Spartans were 0-10-2 after opening the WAC with a 2-1 overtime loss at Boise State. But they rebounded by defeating Idaho 2-0, Utah State 4-2 and Louisiana Tech 4-0. The three-match winning streak is their longest since the 2000 season.
"We want one of those byes. That is what we are shooting for. You are automatically in the semifinals if you are in the top two, so this game looms large," SJSU coach Dave Siracusa told his school's Web site following the LaTech win.
San Jose State freshman midfielder Liz Behlen is this week's Western Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Week. She scored once against LaTech and twice against Utah State.
Behlen leads SJSU (3-10-2 overall) with six goals and three assists. Sophomore midfielder Kristin Krale and freshman striker Jessica Scott have three goals apiece.
The availability of Rainbow Wahine (7-7-2 overall) leading scorer Natasha Kai is still questionable. She did not practice with the team yesterday. Kai missed the last two matches with a sprained neck.
"Natasha was supposed to have an MRI, but she is claustrophobic and couldn't go through with it," said UH coach Pinsoom Tenzing. "It is unlikely she will play on Friday and that is a huge blow. We practiced with Krisha (Kai) up top and we'll see how that goes."
The Spartans record reflects the tough nonconference schedule Sirasuca put together. Their last match before the WAC was at Santa Clara, ranked anywhere from No. 2 to No. 5 all season. The Broncos needed a late goal to edge SJSU 2-1.
"San Jose is a very difficult team. They are very well-organized on defense and have a freshman striker (Scott) who shoots from anywhere," said Tenzing.
Notes: The next UH victory will be Tenzing's 100th win. ... UH junior striker Adria Campbell leads the WAC with four assists. She has eight overall, one shy of the Wahine single-season record.