CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARBULLETIN.COM
Hawaii's Alexis Choi celebrated after scoring a goal during the first half against Tennessee-Martin last night.
Wahine earn another title
Another weekend meant another tournament championship for the Rainbow Wahine soccer team.
Taryn Fukuroku had a goal and an assist, and junior Alexis Choi scored her first career goal to lead Hawaii past Tennessee-Martin 3-0 yesterday in the Outrigger Hotels & Resorts Soccer Classic finale at Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium.
A crowd of 652 watched Hawaii win its second tournament title in as many weeks.
"Tonight the starting 11 played the game we mapped out for them to play," Hawaii coach Pinsoom Tenzing said.
At times it seemed more like a rugby match than a soccer game. The two teams combined for 38 fouls. Five different yellow cards were handed out. Even Skyhawks coach Craig Roberts got his bench carded after kicking a ball out of bounds back into play in frustration at his teams struggles.
UT-Martin did not manage a shot attempt in the first half. It made freshman Nicole McClure's first start in goal a little more relaxing. McClure had one shot in the second half bounce off the crossbar and made a diving stop on another tough shot with 9 minutes left.
It was her only save in recording the solo shutout.
"It puts a lot of confidence in me when my defenders play well," McClure said.
"She's a quality goalkeeper," Tenzing added. "I can't afford to have her on the bench all the time."
It wasn't nearly as easy a game for Skyhawks starting goalkeeper Cara Sullivan. Hawaii kept her busy with 12 first-half shot attempts, including five on goal.
Fukuroku missed a shot on goal in the fourth minute when she pushed it just wide. But the junior forward made up for it minutes later, heading a crossing pass from Kristen Oshiro past Sullivan for an early 1-0 lead.
Fukuroku also assisted on Hawaii's other first-half goal. She delivered a pass to the far post that Choi booted into the net. It was Choi's first career goal and capped a dominant first half for the Rainbow Wahine.
"I didn't even know I scored at first," Choi said. "I think I was in shock."
Tehane Higa added her second goal of the season on a penalty kick in the second half for the game's final score.
Injuries proved to be the only downfall for the Rainbow Wahine. Leading goal scorer Ambree Ako came out in the 26th minute after injuring her ankle. Midfielder Jessica Domingo also went down with an injury in the opening half. Neither player returned to the game.
Mari Punzal, who had started the previous three games, did not play. She was hurt in Friday's match against Pacific.
"(Injuries) are bound to happen," Tenzing said. "As we face keener opposition, I am a little concerned about the injuries."
Hawaii has two home matches next weekend against Duquesne. It will be their final tune-up before hitting the road for games with Cal State Northridge and nationally ranked UCLA on Sept. 21 and 23.