Monday, July 28, 2014         


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After road victory and tie, Wahine can make tourney

By Brian McInnis


Look for mixed messages from the Hawaii women's soccer team out at Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium this weekend.

The Rainbow Wahine will try to extend rude welcomes to Western Athletic Conference visitors Louisiana Tech and New Mexico State, then bid fond farewells to four seniors.

UH (3-11-2, 1-2-1 WAC) went through a miserable stretch last month, but one road trip -- a win at Fresno State and a tie at San Jose State -- put the Wahine back in the mix for a berth to the WAC tournament in Ruston, La. The Wahine stand at sixth place among nine teams entering the weekend, and can solidify their position with a victory or two. UH needs a top-six finish to make the tourney.

"The possibility of going to the WAC championship is in our grasp," UH coach Pinsoom Tenzing said. "I think that'll be a huge, huge incentive for everybody to step up. I'm hopeful. Regardless of the success on the field, they've been wonderful kids."

The Wahine play the Lady Techsters (13-5, 3-3) tomorrow at 7 p.m. Co-captains Mari Punzal and Chelsea Deptula and fellow seniors Laura Euers and Caycie Gusman will be honored following Sunday's 5 p.m. match vs. the NMSU Aggies (7-7-2, 1-5).

"It's in our hands, so we just gotta take it and go," said Deptula, a defender who's scored a team-best four goals this season, putting her ninth all-time at UH with 13.

"It hasn't hit me yet. ... I just want to make it memorable and just pull hard as always. ... I think we just need to focus on how we play as a team."

The UH players rallied around one another after Punzal, the team's preseason All-WAC midfielder, went down with a season-ending ACL injury late in a home loss to Idaho on Sept. 3. She finished 10th in UH career points and just outside the top 10 in goals and assists.

"I think we're starting to pull together, and everyone's a little more confident, even in practices, now that we've started to win," Punzal said. "I have no doubts that we'll definitely go to the WAC now.

"I would just say thank you to all the fans who keep coming out and the people who support us. It's been a great ride at UH and I wouldn't change anything about it."

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