RAINBOW WAHINE SOCCER
Higa's catching on to Wahine's ways
Tehane Higa went from confused as a freshman to being an integral component as a sophomore on the four-player, flat-back defense employed by the Hawaii women's soccer team.
It is not unusual for a first-year player to need time to adjust to the tactics of the college game. Higa's learning curve improved significantly during spring practice.
OHANA HOTELS & RESORTS INVITATIONAL
Schedule: Today, Hawaii vs. Detroit Mercy, 7 p.m.; Saturday, Detroit Mercy vs. Cal State Northridge, 7 p.m.; Monday, Hawaii vs. Cal State Northridge, 5 p.m.
Where: Waipio Peninsula Soccer Park stadium.
TV: Today's match on KFVE (Channel 5)
"Last year I was kind of lost, but during the spring I understood better how Pinsoom (UH coach Tenzing) wants us to play the game," Higa said.
A four-year starter for Aiea and a Star-Bulletin All-State first-team honoree as a senior, Higa played man-to-man defense in high school. Switching to the Wahine zone defense was a big adjustment.
"We worked a lot on defense in the spring. You have to stay disciplined. We scrimmaged boys and that helped a lot," Higa said.
The defenders have a zone -- or channels as they call them -- to cover, with teammates on either side for support. The concept calls for limiting the space an opponent can turn in or find a teammate to pass to.
"We all play together but have our own channels. If I get beat I take it personally and feel bad, but I just try to shake it off and move on," Higa said.
Another plus from the mandatory 6 a.m. spring workouts was the improvement in speed and quickness for the entire team under the guidance of assistant strength and conditioning coach DeJuan Hathaway.
"Tehane has become very conditioned and that is a huge difference (vs. her freshman year)," said Tenzing.
"She came to us with a lot of tactical skill and has bought into our tactical scheme. It takes time to understand. You have to experience it, make mistakes out there.
"I like the way Tehane takes the ball up field with a lot of control. She is a sure tackler and playing very good soccer."
Higa says her left foot could use some improvement and she wants to be even faster. Her goal on defense is to be first to the ball.
She wanted to play soccer as a youngster and started at age 7 in AYSO with her dad (Brian) coaching her first team.
At Aiea, Higa also played volleyball her first three years, then concentrated on soccer as a senior.
"I knew I wasn't going to play volleyball after high school," said Higa, who as a junior entertained notions of going to college on the mainland, specifically Purdue.
However, when UH entered the recruiting picture her senior year and offered a scholarship, the decision to stay home was easy.
"I am definitely happy that I stayed. I love it here," Higa said. "I just take it day by day and play the hardest I can in every game."
She says the butterflies are there before every game, but after the first 5 minutes, everything is OK.
Note: Higa's uncle, Peter Pale, played football for Hawaii (1990-93) and her cousin, Cristina Cobb-Adams, who just graduated from Princeton, played softball for the Tigers.