POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Sep 18, 2010
The early-season offensive woes of the Hawaii women's soccer team are fast becoming something more worrisome.
UH's ongoing struggle to score was more apparent than ever in a 3-0 loss to Washington State last night in the opener of the Outrigger Hotels and Resorts Soccer Classic before 520 fans at the Waipio Peninsula Soccer Complex.
The Rainbow Wahine (2-6) are running out of time to find a winning formula with three more games before the start of the Western Athletic Conference season.
UH was shut out for the third time in five home games. In each of the previous home losses, the Wahine could at least say they outshot their opponent. But not so last night.
"The culprit of the entire game was the fact that we passed very badly in the first half," UH coach Pinsoom Tenzing said.
UH, still going with just three defenders, has been left vulnerable by its lack of upfield production. The Wahine have given up 16 goals in their last four games.
First-half passing was erratic, giving way to two goals for the Cougars (3-6) just 35 seconds apart midway through the period.
"We just need to keep the ball more, be patient," said junior midfielder Rachel Domingo. "We just need to keep it simple."
WSU got on the board in the 23rd minute on a rebound goal in the box by senior Emma Stolz.
Almost immediately following it, freshman Eileen Maes took a lob from midfield to about 15 yards out from the goal. She controlled it despite being surrounded by white shirts and chipped it off the right side of her foot and over UH goalkeeper Kanani Taaca.
"I don't think we were concentrating," Tenzing said. "And that's disappointing and deflating for the team, obviously."
With WSU's 2-0 lead, Tenzing, still tinkering to find something that works, moved top offensive threat Mari Punzal to her home at midfield for the rest of the match ... to no avail.
The Wahine were completely out of it by the 54th minute, when WSU lobbed a ball to two open players directly in front of the goal. The first Cougar whiffed, but the loose ball went to Stolz, who scooted her second goal of the season to the left of Taaca.
Tenzing said the open players were offside by design, but there was no whistle.
"We're encouraged by the offensive success," WSU coach Matt Potter said. "To get three goals and put the game away was a moral victory for us. We've struggled at that end of the field."
UH senior co-captain Chelsea Deptula didn't start for the first time in her career, breaking a string of 67 games. She missed practice all week with an injury, but got in for the final 13 minutes.
WSU, which was ranked in the preseason, improved to 3-0 all-time vs. UH.
The Cougars can win the tournament today at 7 p.m. by beating Pepperdine (4-2-1). UH plays the Waves tomorrow at 5 p.m. to conclude the tourney.