Wednesday, November 14, 2001
[ WAHINE SOCCER ]
The Hawaii women's soccer team opened the 2001 season with three consecutive victories, struggled through the middle of the campaign, then put everything together to win five of its last six matches.
Wahine blended well for success
By Al Chase
The Wahine scored almost as many goals, 18, in those final six matches as they had in the previous 14 outings when they dented the net 20 times.
The late season success resulted in Hawaii's first trip to the Western Athletic Conference championship match, a 2-0 loss to Southern Methodist.
Reaching the title match is a positive for the program. It was accomplished with a young team, one that saw newcomers blend with the veterans well.
UH coach Pinsoom Tenzing loses strikers Jennifer Starsiak and Veronica Flores, the second and third leading scorers, and standout defenders Carmel Hurley and Erin Schremser. A defender or two are high on Tenzing's shopping list.
The quick development of freshmen midfielders Joelle Sugai, Natalie Groenewoud, defender Krystalynn Ontai, midfielder/defender Sasha Araya- Schraner and redshirt freshman midfielder Tia Medeiros accelerated the process of replacing nine seniors from the 2000 team. Their absorption of Tenzing's tactical plans helped when midfielder Kalena Eaton was lost to injury after five matches and midfielder Tiffany Makue wasn't 100 percent after suffering a broken right hand.
Sophomore midfielder Liz Lusk took much of the season to regain her first-year form after ACL surgery in the spring, then was a huge contributor in UH's stretch run.
The youth produced depth and that will carry over to future seasons.
"The technical ability and the tactical sense of all incoming freshmen is so much better than in years past. When we first started this program we almost had to teach some kids how to kick the ball," Tenzing said. "There has been tremendous improvement in the high school play."
The open spot at goalkeeper was filled successfully. Starter Jennifer Churchill returns along with freshman Erin Chow and redshirt junior Nichole Yoshimura.
Although some of the projected starters didn't work out, the team's depth allowed the coaching staff to fill a hole on defense with Ontai, who turned out to be a stronger player than Tenzing expected, at left back and Sugai up top.
"My one concern with Joelle was she covered so much ground in high school that I thought it would be difficult to contain her to one side, but that was never a problem," Tenzing said.
"Our goal was to win the WAC and we fell a little short of that. However, this is an experienced group of kids who have been to the front line. The trick will be to fit in the incoming players next fall."
Arlene Devitt keyed the offense again and returns for her junior year.
The Wahine had to overcome discouraging moments, a disruption of their schedule and some uncontrollable events including a couple of results of other WAC matches late in the year that would have left alone UH in second place, not tied for the position.
The events of Sept. 11 not only wiped out four home matches for the Wahine, but three recruits Tenzing had lined up for official visits canceled, two permanently. The third may change her mind, but, as Tenzing noted, recruiting is a year around job.
Ka Leo O Hawaii