FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Jessica Domingo said she wants to stay in Hawaii and go to graduate school to study law.
Domingo’s drive powers Wahine soccer
STORY SUMMARY »
Her three All-Western Athletic Conference academic honors prove she's smart in the classroom.
A second-team all-conference selection as a junior suggests her soccer game is pretty good, too.
Rainbow Wahine senior Jessica Domingo has been team captain three straight years.
Her leadership will be needed more than ever as Hawaii embarks on its first road trip of the season.
A win tomorrow ensures the best seven-game start to a season in school history.
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If Jessica Domingo isn't doing something soccer related, chances are she's studying about human movement.
After she graduates with a degree in kinesiology in the spring, the three-time All-WAC academic honoree says she wants to stay in Hawaii and go to graduate school to study law.
A kinesiology major going to law school?
She might be a little confused off the soccer field, but it's a different story on it.
Her steady play in the middle is one of many key factors that have led the Rainbow Wahine soccer team to its second-best start in school history.
It's also just one of the reasons her coach holds her in such high regard.
"She is perhaps the best kid I have ever coached in my life," Hawaii coach Pinsoom Tenzing said. "I've never had somebody with more heart and determination and a lot of savvy as well."
Domingo has been a leader since the beginning. It took just four games into her freshman year for her to win a starting job.
By her sophomore year, she was already named a co-captain.
Now, she's the heart and soul of a team looking to advance to the NCAA tournament for the first time.
"That's the one goal I would like to accomplish," Domingo said. "We've always played one game and out (in the WAC tournament). It's something I'd love to fix."
It's easy to pick out Domingo on the field. She's usually the one covered from head to toe in tape. Her body has been through the wars over four years and this season has been no different.
A week before preseason began, Domingo sprained her right ankle.
During the second day of practice, she sprained the other ankle.
As soon as a game ends, she'll be the first one to the training table to get treatment.
Somehow, she hasn't let it affect her play.
"Her never-say-die attitude is sort of by process of osmosis seeping to everybody on the team," Tenzing said. "That is something that is totally invaluable in a team sport."
Domingo had high expectations for her senior season. With 11 starters back from a season ago, Hawaii opened with tough games against Auburn and nationally ranked Kansas.
The Rainbow Wahine were 0-17-1 all-time against ranked opponents, but had little problem pasting the Jayhawks 4-0.
"I think we kind of shocked ourselves that we were able to beat them like that," Domingo said.
"No matter what you do in the preseason, you never know how good or bad you are. After that game we saw our real potential."
Hawaii left yesterday for California, where it begins its first road trip of the season. The Rainbow Wahine face a tough Cal State Northridge squad tomorrow before a showdown with No. 7 UCLA on Sunday.
The next two games will tell just how good this team is. The Rainbow Wahine, who received three votes in this week's NCSAA Top 25 poll, will try to avenge last year's home-field loss to the Matadors. They have also never beaten the Bruins.
"We have got to go back and settle the score (with Cal State Northridge)," Tenzing said. "And (UCLA) is on paper one of the best teams in the nation."
Recently, this has been a point in the season where Hawaii has struggled. The Wahine have just one win on their first road trip of the season in the last two years. The '98 team that started 6-0 hit the road for the first time and lost six of its next seven games.
Now more than ever, Domingo will be looked upon to provide leadership for a team that started just two seniors in its last game.
Three freshmen will be starting on the first road trip of their careers. One of them, Mari Punzal, plays alongside Domingo in the midfield. The two were teammates in high school at Kamehameha.
"I'm kind of there as the old one who knows the style of play and she's there as the young one who is really athletic and energetic and runs for days," Domingo said. "We complement each other really well."
It wasn't long ago that Domingo was the one giving seniors headaches in practice with her enthusiasm and energy. Now as she wraps up a stellar collegiate career, she admits to "just feeling old" and says she is looking forward to life after college.
"It's bittersweet," she said. "I still want to play, but my body is so beat up. I don't know what I'm going to do."
Between law school and physical therapy school, she has left herself with many good options.