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Rainbow Wahine seniors set for last home games


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POSTED: Thursday, October 23, 2008

The six Rainbow Wahine soccer seniors playing their final home games this weekend will be remembered as one of the most successful classes ever.

The exact measure of that success, however, has yet to be determined.

Forward Taryn Fukuroku, midfielders Alexis Choi, Kelli-Anne Chang and Kristen Oshiro, defender Tehane Higa and goalkeeper Kori Lu have been key cogs during the winningest run in program history.

Both outright first-place finishes in the Western Athletic Conference and the only WAC tournament title and berth in the NCAA tournament have come in the past three years.

“;This group has changed the culture and the way we play soccer,”; Hawaii coach Pinsoom Tenzing said. “;They are just superb individuals, every single one of them, and they are the true concept of student-athletes.”;

But as they play their final home games against Utah State tomorrow and Louisiana Tech on Sunday, they won't spend much time celebrating their careers. Not with so much left to accomplish.

“;We're thinking of this as another season game,”; Chang said. “;We won't let the celebration of it being our last home game affect us. We still have a lot of soccer to play.”;

Fresh off their first WAC tournament championship and returning nearly everyone from last season, expectations were at an all-time high for the Rainbow Wahine.

But even with a 5-4-4 record, and 1-1-1 mark in conference play, those expectations haven't changed.

“;We're going to win the WAC postseason tournament,”; Tenzing said. “;We're going to go to the NCAA (tournament). They are that good.

“;We're still nursing some injuries. If those injuries don't hamper us, we'll do better than we did last year.”;

Urgency might not be the right word, since there are plenty of talented underclassmen on the team. But the graduating senior class will take with it major amounts of production from all over the field.

Most notable could be the play of Lu, who has been a stalwart in goal.

She beat out two seniors to start in her freshman season and owns nearly every school record for a goalkeeper. She will start at least 80 games in her career barring injury, and has been the winning goalkeeper in some of Hawaii's biggest victories ever.

“;Just meeting all the girls and having this experience of being an athlete has been special,”; Lu said. “;That's what I'll take away from this.”;

Hawaii has outplayed most of the teams on its schedule, but that hasn't translated to wins. In its only WAC loss this season, Hawaii outshot Nevada 16-5 and had 10 shots on goal to the Wolf Pack's one. But that one was good for the only score of the game.

I feel that we've been playing good soccer, but we're just not coming up with the results,”; Higa said. “;Taryn and Ambree (Ako) are two of the best strikers in the WAC and other teams know that, so they've been focusing on stacking their defense against us and it's been hard for us to score.”;

Hawaii faces league-leading Utah State (9-7-1, 4-0) tomorrow night with the chance to reestablish itself as the league's best team.

After Louisiana Tech, Hawaii has two more road games before the WAC tournament, Nov. 6-9, in Reno, Nev.

THE SENIOR 6

; » Name: Taryn Fukuroku

» Position: Forward

» Height: 5-2

» High school: Maui High

» Honors: Named first-team All-WAC twice; three-time All-WAC academic team selection; two-time CoSIDA academic all-region selection

  Career stats:

G-GS SH SOG G A PTS

77-59 191 98 25 19 69

  ; » Name: Kelli-Anne Chang

» Position: Midfielder

>> Height: 5-0

» High school: Aiea

» Honors: One of four UH players to score three goals in a game; top 10 in school history in seven offensive categories, including third in game-winning goals (7)

  Career stats:

G-GS SH SOG G A PTS

67-35 111 47 18 5 41

  ; » Name: Alexis Choi

» Position: Midfielder

» Height: 5-1

» High school: Mililani

» Honors: Named to Outrigger Hotels and Resorts all-tournament team twice; tied school record with three assists in a game at Louisiana Tech (Oct. 28, 2007)

  Career stats:

G-GS SH SOG G A PTS

63-49 38 12 2 7 11

  ; » Name: Tehane Higa

» Position: Defender

» Height: 5-4

» High school: Aiea

» Honors: 2007 WAC defensive player of the year; All-WAC first-team selection; Soccer Buzz all-region third-team selection; third player in program history to earn all-region honors

  Career stats:

G-GS SH SOG G A PTS

67-54 54 38 8 2 18

  ; Name: Kristen Oshiro

Position: Midfielder

Height: 5-0

High school: Mira Mesa (Calif.)

Honors: All-WAC academic selection twice

  Career stats:

G-GS SH SOG G 53-45 13 7 2 5 9

  ; » Name: Kori Lu

» Position: Goalkeeper

» Height: 5-7

» High school: Santa Margarita (Calif.)

» Honors: All-WAC second-team selection; school's all-time leader in goalkeeper wins, minutes played, matches played, matches started and solo shutouts

  Career stats:

G-GS SV MIN GA SHO GAA W-L-T

75-73 220 6,026:10 81 12 1.21 31-26-10