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Rainbow Wahine open WAC season


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POSTED: Friday, October 02, 2009

It might be opening weekend in Western Athletic Conference soccer, but with only eight league matches, there's no time for a slow start.

“;In the WAC, if you're not successful in the first two games, then we'll be (playing) catch-up, and we don't want to be caught in that situation,”; Hawaii coach Pinsoom Tenzing said.

The Rainbow Wahine (4-6-1) ride a three-game winning streak into tonight's WAC opener against San Jose State at Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium.

After opening the season with two solid performances against ranked teams — 0-0 tie against BYU, 6-2 loss to Stanford — Hawaii dropped five in a row. But since back-to-back 1-0 losses on the road at Cal State Fullerton and Cal State Northridge, Hawaii has reeled off three straight wins, including two last week at home against Detroit-Mercy.

“;They've been steadily improving and we're seeing the fruits of their improvement,”; Tenzing said. “;On the road, in the games they lost, they played exceedingly well.”;

That was especially evident against the Matadors. Hawaii outshot Cal State Northridge 29-8 and forced Matadors goalkeeper Kellie Drenner to come up with 12 saves.

It's been a trend all season for the Rainbow Wahine, who are only averaging 1.18 goals per game, which ranks near the bottom of the WAC.

“;They did miss a few chances early, but I think they'll be OK,”; Tenzing said. “;We're getting the opportunities.”;

The Spartans (5-4) also begin WAC play on a roll. SJSU has won its last five games, posting four shutouts during that run.

Hawaii then faces Fresno State on Sunday. The Bulldogs (2-8) have only scored five goals all season, but have a strong defense bolstered by goalkeeper Kaitlyn Revel, the preseason WAC defensive player of the year.

A look at the teams based on the preseason poll:

Utah State (5-6-1)

Senior Lindsey Smart, the school's all-time assists leader with 14, set another record by starting her 74th game for USU. Sophomore striker Shantel Flanary leads the team with 12 points on five goals and two assists, including two game-winning goals. Junior forward Lauren Hansen is second on the team with four goals and two assists. The Aggies, who only have three seniors on their roster, lost their only match against a ranked opponent, falling 1-0 to No. 20 Oklahoma State.

Hawaii (4-6-1)

While the Rainbow Wahine have struggled to cash in on scoring chances, the defense has stepped up, allowing one goal or none in five straight games. Senior transfer Britta Bourne, the reigning WAC offensive player of the week, leads the team with 14 points and six goals. Freshman goalkeeper Kanani Taaca has started and played all 90 minutes the last three games, allowing only one goal.

Fresno State (2-8)

The Bulldogs lost a nonconference match to St. Mary's (Calif.) on Wednesday before leaving for Hawaii. FSU was shut out in its first five matches of the season. Goalkeeper Kaitlyn Revel is second in the WAC with 53 saves. The Bulldogs average less than eight shots per game. Junior Claudia Cardenas has scored three of FSU's five goals.

Boise State (5-3-4)

The Broncos are on a seven-match unbeaten streak. True freshman Lauren Hickok is the reigning WAC defensive player of the week after earning tournament MVP honors at the Wyoming Cowgirl Classic. Junior Shannon Saxton leads the team in scoring with five goals. The Broncos have gotten plenty of contributions from freshmen, including Erica Parks (three goals, two assists) and Maureen Fitzgerald (two goals, two assists). BSU is giving up 0.83 goals per game.

Nevada (3-8)

Freshman goalkeeper Dana Moreno became the second player in program history to record a shutout in her first collegiate start. The Wolf Pack are 0-6 on the road and have taken 87 fewer shots than their opponents. Jill Erickson leads the team with nine points and has scored four goals on only nine shots. Junior Cristen Drummond is ranked in the top 10 in points and goals.

San Jose State (5-4)

Roxy Kamal leads the team in points with four goals and four assists. Goalkeeper Nina Butera is 5-2 with a 0.86 goals-against average. SJSU is one of the more experienced teams, returning 10 starters from a year ago. Its current five-match winning streak is the longest in school history. The Spartans are well-balanced, with six different players scoring at least two goals this season.

Louisiana Tech (11-0-1)

The WAC's only undefeated team has already set a record for most wins in a season. Rachel King is the NCAA leader with 12 goals scored and the Lady Techsters' 49 goals also lead the country. LaTech has never won a WAC game (0-22-6). Goalkeeper Cat Buchanan has recorded a school-record six shutouts this season. LaTech has only allowed six goals.

Idaho (7-4)

Senior Sari Morrison has netted a team-high six goals, including three game-winners. The Vandals are 0-10-1 all-time in conference openers and are holding opponents to 0.91 goals per game, which ranks third in the WAC. Idaho is off to its best start in school history through 11 games. Freshman forward Chelsea Small has stepped up big in her debut season with four goals and three assists.

New Mexico State (5-5-0)

The Aggies are in their first year of women's soccer and play their first WAC game against Boise State today. Eight Aggies have found the back of the net this season, including forward Crystal Burns and midfielder Jazmin Cardoso, who share the team lead with three each. The key for NMSU is starting fast. The Aggies are 3-0 when they score first and 3-0 when they lead at halftime.