RAINBOW WAHINE SOCCER
Rainbow Wahine want to learn as they go
The 2006 Hawaii Rainbow Wahine soccer team is young and small.
Only nine of the 24 players are upperclassmen and just six are taller than 5-foot-5.
"We will have to play with a lot of intelligence. If we get into a wrestling match, it won't go so well," said Pinsoom Tenzing, who starts his 13th season as head coach tomorrow against Washington in the Ohana Hotels & Resorts No Ka Oi tournament.
OHANA HOTELS & RESORTS NO KA OI
Schedule: Tomorrow, Hawaii vs. Washington, 7 p.m.; Saturday, Oklahoma vs. Washington, 7 p.m.; Monday, Hawaii vs. Oklahoma, 5 p.m.
Where: Waipio Peninsula Soccer Park Stadium
Series record: UH is playing Washington and Oklahoma for the first time.
Notes: The Rainbow Wahine are 4-5-2 in home season openers.
The youngest component is the offense that lost six players from a year ago.
Taryn Fukuroku, the only freshman to play in all 20 matches a year ago, and junior Koren Takeyama, who moves up from the back line on occasion, are the returnees. Freshmen Ambree Ako, Emma Makepa-Foley, Vanessa Bailey and Emily Chun all will see playing time. How they adjust to the jump from high school to college will determine their minutes on the field.
"They are playing beautiful soccer together and they are extremely coachable," Tenzing said. "They are tough on defense as well."
The challenge will be penetrating the UW defense.
The Huskies have eight starters back, led by three-year starting goalkeeper Kelsey Rasmussen and senior defenders Cathy Roe and Shaela Ward.
Jessica Domingo, a preseason All-Western Athletic Conference pick, is Hawaii's midfield general for the third consecutive season.
"Jessica does a lot of dirty work for us on defense. She beats taller players in the air and is the heart and soul of the team," Tenzing said.
Senior Kelly McCloskey on the right side and sophomore Kelli-Anne Chang are returning midfielders who can fill in on the back line if necessary.
Other midfield candidates include junior Aimee Watanabe, sophomores Kristen Oshiro, Alexis Choi, Jodie Toyama, Dayna Omiya, Liza Amaya and Kelsie Look and freshman Julia Siljestrom.
Takeyama, a preseason All-WAC selection, will start with veterans Shawn Higa and Lehua Wood, both juniors, and sophomore Tehane Higa on the back line. McCloskey and Makepa-Foley can drop back in defense along with freshmen Larilyn Alota and Siljestrom.
An All-WAC second-team choice a year ago, sophomore Kori Lu returns as the starting goalkeeper. She will be backed up by Brittney Aiwohi, who after four years on the Rainbow Wahine basketball team is minding the nets for the first time since her senior year at Sacred Hearts.
"Kori is tactically sounder. She has learned to condense her space and is playing outside the penalty box more," said Tenzing.
"Brittney has improved tremendously. I'm very confident about our goalkeepers."
Tactically, the 2006 Wahine will have to eschew the long ball and move it adeptly on the ground.
"I'm very hopeful this group comes together. I have tremendous leadership from my captain (Domingo), and the other juniors really provide a lot of help," Tenzing said.
"I expect this weekend to be a learning process."