Kai earns third WAC player of year award
Natasha Kai was named the Western Athletic Conference women's soccer Player of the Year yesterday, the first time the award has ever gone to the same player three times.
Kai also earned the honor in 2002 and 2003.
The WAC named players of the year by division the first three seasons (1996-1998) it sponsored soccer and Southern Methodist's Marci Miller was the Mountain Division winner twice.
Hawaii Rainbow Wahine coach Pinsoom Tenzing was named WAC Coach of the Year after guiding UH to a first-place finish, the first outright title for the Wahine. It is the first time he has been so honored.
"Obviously we were the No. 1 team, but that doesn't mean much. It was a surprise," said Tenzing. "I'm pleased that I got it. It's a compelling achievement. I thought my rival was Terri Patraw at Nevada who took a last-place team and almost was co-champions."
Kai, the coaches' preseason pick for the award, said, "It was like any other season where I go out and try to do my best and have good things come out for the team. I didn't think I was going to get it. I thought it was up for grabs."
Kai, a senior striker from Kahuku, scored eight goals in six league matches. With two assists, she tallied 18 points. She surpassed her own record of 49 shots (2004) with 58 this year.
Kai set a single-match record with 16 shots against Louisiana Tech and holds the WAC career shots record (438) and is second in goals
(71) and points (160).
She joins SMU's Tara Comfort as the only four-time, first-team pick.
Joining Kai on the All-WAC first team were sophomore Jessica Domingo and sophomore defender Koren Takeyama.
Junior striker Adria Campbell, junior defender Krisha Kai and freshman goalkeeper Kori Lu were named the second team. Campbell was a first-team pick last year while playing for SMU.
"I was super surprised," said Takeyama who was a four-time, first-team, all-state selection playing for the Baldwin Bears.
"With Krisha and Lehua (Wood) and Shawn (Higa) being so good, I was really shocked. I really was not expecting it at all. I was eating a cookie when my name was called and I screamed 'What!' I couldn't believe it."
Domingo, a four-year letterwinner at Kamehameha, also was taken by surprise.
"Honest to God, I was really surprised," said the center midfielder. "I guess I'm just thankful for the opportunity. My great grandmother always told me to be thankful for what you have. I'm thankful that my team allowed me to get this award."
The selections were made by a vote of the league coaches.
Tenzing, who can't vote for his own players, was pleased with the Hawaii selections.
The Wahine play their first match in the WAC Tournament tomorrow against the winner of today's match between Utah State and Fresno State.