POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Oct 4, 2010
The Hawaii women's soccer team was dealt two crushing blows last night.
Idaho handed the Rainbow Wahine their second Western Athletic Conference home loss in the first week of league play, a 3-1 decision at windy Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium. That would normally be a dour enough situation for one night as UH (2-10-1, 0-2 WAC) faces a steep climb to the WAC tournament with only two home games remaining.
But things got much worse when senior co-captain Mari Punzal, the team's best player, crumpled with a knee injury with about 15 minutes left in the game. It didn't look good, as she stayed down and was helped off the field and examined by trainers. She left the field on crutches after the game.
"That's the bigger hurt, Mari," UH coach Pinsoom Tenzing said. "She's just an exceptional gift to the program. The beating heart of the team."
Tenzing said the team would know the extent of the injury today, and was hopeful of getting her back for a run at a WAC tourney berth.
The night's bright spot for UH came in the 20th minute, when senior midfielder Lauren Ho netted a shot at a steep angle from the left post, putting to rest a school-record six-game scoreless slide. But UH's winless streak still reached eight, and UH recorded its sixth straight home loss, another record.
A crowd of 750 saw Idaho (10-3, 1-0) earn its first win in seven meetings with UH as the Vandals continued their best start in program history.
Chelsea Small posted two goals and had the go-ahead score on a cross from Lauren Layton in the 25th minute. Megan Lopez scored unassisted to ice the win in the 86th minute.
UH gave up an unassisted goal in the fourth minute to Small, but the Wahine got a ray of hope when Ho took a pass from Kaylee Kihara and ended UH's unprecedented scoring futility going back to Sept. 5 at California, tying it up at 1-1.
"We go one up early, and that's a dangerous thing. If you score early, there's always the chance you'll back up and ease up a little bit," UI coach Peter Showler said. "(UH) scored a good goal, and they're capable of scoring goals. I don't know how they haven't scored more goals. But they came back at us and scored, all credit to them. But we responded very quickly and positively."
Ho, a track and cross country state champion out of Hawaii Baptist Academy, is playing her only season of soccer eligibility at UH after transferring from Washington.
"It was exciting, it gave us a little bit more hope in the season," Ho said. "It didn't matter who did it, just the fact that we got a goal in."