Tourney new to Wahine soccer team
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When Hawaii makes its inaugural appearance in the NCAA women's soccer tournament tomorrow against Colorado, it will be picking up some things on the fly.
The Western Athletic Conference champion Rainbow Wahine (15-4-2) will get in a regular day of practice today and make adjustments before they go against the Big 12 Buffaloes (9-7-4), who were the seventh-place team in their conference but were allowed to host a four-team regional. The teams meet at 8 a.m. Hawaii time at Prentup Field, and live results will be posted at www.ncaasports.com.
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It's the blind meeting the blind in Hawaii's first women's soccer NCAA tournament game tomorrow, and that's just fine with the Rainbow Wahine.
With Hawaii and Colorado set to kick off in Boulder, Colo., at 8 a.m. Hawaii time in the opening round of the 64-team field, the best scouting option so far for the Rainbow Wahine (15-4-2) and Buffaloes has been ... going on each other's Web sites.
"This is kind of new and kind of scary that we don't know anything about them," senior team captain Jessica Domingo said. "We're dealing with that and we're just practicing really hard.
"Getting Colorado as a draw, even though we don't know anything about them, really gave us confidence and really believe that we can do this," the midfielder added.
Once his team got settled from their Tuesday night flight in from Boise, Idaho, coach Pinsoom Tenzing seemed to have an idea of what to expect from the hosts (9-7-4), at high-altitude Prentup Field.
"Colorado should be a very terrific team for the spectators to watch because they play a similar style (as us)," he said. "There won't be any unnecessarily muscular play, which takes away from the beauty of the game."
There are positive and negative indicators of how the Rainbow Wahine might fare. They went 0-3-1 in their nonconference road games before opening up the WAC schedule. But Kansas, the lone mutual opponent of the two teams, defeated Colorado 2-0 during Big 12 play, while Hawaii beat the Jayhawks 4-0 in their season debut.
It's the Buffaloes' fifth straight appearance in the NCAA tournament, and they're hosting for the second straight year in preliminary rounds.
"We're probably just as much of a mystery to them as they are to us," Colorado coach Bill Hempen is quoted as saying on the Buffaloes' Web site. "We'll do what we can to play to our strengths and it should be a real good game. I'm looking forward to the opportunity."
Nobody seems to know anything groundbreaking. For example, Colorado listed that Hawaii set team records in wins (15), shutouts (12), and goals (59) in a season, and that Ambree Ako and Tehane Higa were named the Western Athletic Conference Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year.
Likewise, Domingo said: "We don't know anything about them right now, other than what we looked up on the Web site."
Colorado is led offensively by first team All-Big 12 selection Nikki Marshall, who tallied nine goals and two assists during the season, in which the Buffs posted eight shutouts.
The Rainbow Wahine aren't satisfied with simply becoming the first Hawaii team to break into the NCAAs after winning the WAC tournament title. They want to make some noise while they're at it.
"We want to give them the best show that we possibly can, play as a team, and win or lose, just feel like we played really good soccer," Domingo said.
"Definitely (we're not satisfied yet). We got the chance to come here, we don't want to give it away easily."
The winner of the game would likely face No. 2 tournament seed Portland, the 2005 NCAA champion, in the round of 32.