Rainbow Wahine sputtered after starting strong
The 2006 Hawaii Rainbow Wahine soccer season began with a solid 6-2-2 record, then hit a skid in which the team posted just two victories in the final 11 matches.
A young team that lost several offensive players before the first match, the Wahine had sophomores Taryn Fukuroku and Kelli-Anne Chang and freshman Ambree Ako step up and provide offense. The trio accounted for 21 of the team's 25 goals.
However, coach Pinsoom Tenzing's offense was predicated on it being built from the back line and turning the outside backs loose to make runs up the field. When three of the four veteran defenders -- Kelly McCloskey, Lehua Wood and Shawn Higa -- were lost to injury for all or most of the final 11 matches, the offense sputtered.
Picked to finish second in the Western Athletic Conference's preseason coaches poll, the Wahine wound up sixth, with the only conference wins coming against seventh-place Idaho and eighth-place Louisiana Tech.
Hawaii (8-11-2) finished the season with five consecutive defeats, the last three by shutout, and were eliminated from the WAC tournament in the first round for the fifth consecutive season.
"The end definitely was not what we wanted to happen. Injuries played a big part," said Tenzing. "We were young and very fit, but we lost too many defenders toward the end.
"Before that, teams had no solution when we had the two outside backs attacking. When one went down with an injury, the other didn't attack any more."
The Wahine were 2-7-1 on the road and Tenzing was critical of the WAC tournament being held in Nevada's Mackay Stadium.
"The demoralizing part was playing the last three games on the road, especially the two in Nevada. That was a horrid situation," Tenzing said. "I don't think anyone should be subject to artificial turf that has worn down over the years.
"Nevada scored five goals in 290 minutes (in the tournament). The rest of the teams -- us, Boise State, Fresno State, San Jose State and Utah State -- scored zero goals in 682 minutes. Fresno got one against San Jose with 8 seconds left in regulation.
"We were playing in a football stadium that was long and narrow. The field is usually very fast, much too fast. We never got into the game after the first couple of passes."
Hawaii loses two seniors and has 21 players coming back next year. Tenzing will be looking for a left-footed player to install at a midfield or striker position, a goalkeeper and some heading ability on the back line in his recruiting.
"We are practically set. We took a hit this year in terms of people deserting the program, but everybody stepped up through their hard work," Tenzing said.