Coaches Josh Fouts, Bob Barry, head coach Pinsoom Tenzing and Kathy Carey lead the Wahine soccer team.

Wahine open season
with ASU tomorrow

The Hawaii soccer team finished strong last year. The hope is that the success will carry over to this season.

Nineteen letterwinners and eight starters return for the 2003 campaign, which opens tomorrow at 7 p.m. at the Waipio Peninsula Soccer Park stadium. The Wahine go against a formidable opponent in Arizona State, ranked No. 14 in the Soccer Buzz preseason poll.

"The opener should be an exceedingly difficult test. Arizona State is an established Pac-10 school," said Hawaii coach Pinsoom Tenzing. "They have two talented strikers up top and a national team player on defense."

The Wahine counter with a roster loaded with players who have had a year to learn the system. This will not be a season where there is experimentation leading up to the opening of conference play. Tenzing wants his best team on the field starting with the opener.

Spring practice went well and the two-a-day fall sessions have gone equally well.

This team won't have to depend on fast counter attacks to the extent it did a year ago. There should be more variety to the offense and different looks on defense.

"We are passing the ball better than ever and were very stingy in not giving up the ball." Tenzing said. "It's a shared attitude. You don't see anyone trying to work the ball to death, working it two, three of four more times than they ought to."

In the goal will be sophomore Mahie Atay and junior Erin Chow, both returnees. Kimi Tiampo, a junior transfer from Seton Hall, also can play between the pipes, but she also can play in the field.

The defenders, either three or four depending on the opponent and the game situation, are Liz Lusk, Krystalynn Ontai, Jessica Uecker, Sasha Araya-Schraner and Ashley Chaffin.

Ontai and Uecker were stalwarts on the back line a year ago and Lusk was a starter two years ago before sitting out last season following knee surgery. Araya-Schraner has moved back from the midfield where she played in 129 matches a year ago.

Lusk's excitement has doubled this year.

"I like to run now. I can't get enough of training. I feel like I'm 110 percent," said Lusk.

Assistant coaches Bob Barry and Josh Fouts have been working with the defense and goalkeepers and are excited about the prospects for the season, according to Tenzing.

"The competition is keen for starting positions, especially since we don't want to do a lot of changing around. This is going to be a very difficult decision," said Tenzing.

The battle rages in the midfield. The leading candidates are Mia Moe, Tia Medeiros, Kalena Eaton and Seline Williams, who moves forward from the back line. Moe, Medeiros and Eaton are veterans and Eaton is fully recovered from a 2001 knee injury that kept her from being a full strength last year.

Joelle Sugai and Natalie Groenewoud are set on the outside left and right, respectively.

Six strikers are vying for starting job, led by last year's top two scorers, Western Athletic Conference Player of the Year Natasha Kai, and UH's all-time leading scorer Arlene Devitt. But Devitt won't play in the opener, having been suspended after a fight with a teammate during practice last Friday.

Newcomers Robyn deHay, a transfer from Stanford via Kamehameha, and Krisha Kai, a freshman from Kahuku, along with returnees Pam Fong and Tasha Hagen give the Wahine plenty of depth.

"Robyn is very competitive, not only in games, but in practice. She comes from a different culture and it has been a wake-up call for the team," said Tenzing.

"Most Hawaii players don't play hard against their friends."

Sugai and Ontai are returning captains. At the suggestion of Barry, there will be a third captain chosen weekly based on performance in matches and practice the previous week.

"I think it's a great idea," said Ontai. "It's based on performance and it's a way you can earn the respect of the team."


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