Rainbow Wahine take title
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The Rainbow Wahine soccer team capped off its opening weekend of the season with a 2-1 overtime victory against Auburn to claim the OHANA Hotels No Ka Oi championship.
Sophomore Ambree Ako scored two unanswered goals to help Hawaii (2-0) jump out to its best start in six years.
Hawaii plays again on Friday against Pacific in the Outrigger Hotels and Resorts Soccer Classic.
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All the breaks that seemed to go against Hawaii a season ago are now falling in its favor.
Tournament MVP Ambree Ako scored the game-winning goal in overtime on a penalty kick to give Hawaii a 2-1 victory over Auburn to claim the OHANA Hotels No Ka Oi championship at Waipio Peninsula Soccer Park.
A crowd of 635 watched Hawaii open the season with consecutive wins for the first time since 2001.
Despite struggling against an Auburn team that has won five of the last six Southeastern Conference West Division crowns, the Wahine overcame a second-half deficit with two unanswered goals.
"A struggle and a win is good anytime," Hawaii coach Pinsoom Tenzing said. "The quality of our game is not up to snuff yet."
Caitlin King scored Auburn's only goal in the 55th minute when she broke free behind the Hawaii defense. She was all alone against Hawaii goalie Kori Lu and snuck the shot past her for the lead.
"We're missing a lot of experience in the back," Tenzing said. "We're starting with three kids who are new to the position and that really hurts the confidence of the team."
Ako answered with the first of her two goals in the 71st minute. She ripped a shot past Auburn goalie Allison Whitworth after taking a pass from Jessica Domingo.
The game went into overtime and Ako drew a foul in the penalty box off a quick counterattack. The sophomore forward then calmly put in the penalty kick for the victory.
"I just calmed myself down and tried not to psych myself out," Ako said.
Hawaii managed just one shot on goal in the first half compared to five for the Tigers. Hawaii turned the ball over frequently on bad passes, allowing Auburn multiple chances late in the first half.
However, the experienced Lu was up to the task. She kept Hawaii in the game with two big saves on back-to-back shots by Kori Hoelscher from inside the box. She also made a tremendous diving stop on a ball hammered by King from nearly 30 yards out.
"We weren't playing well at all," Ako said. "Our conditioning really kicks in though and things started to go our way."
The Wahine will put their undefeated record on the line against Pacific on Friday at home in the Outrigger Hotels and Resorts Soccer Classic.