What everyone else thinks around the Western Athletic Conference matters less to Pinsoom Tenzing than what he knows to be possible.
His Hawaii Rainbow Wahine soccer team was picked by the league’s coaches to finish sixth of nine teams in the WAC preseason poll released yesterday.
"Because that’s where we ended up last season (seventh place at 3-5 in WAC play), and the other coaches don’t have any other statistics to go by," said Tenzing, entering his 17th year as coach. "It’s only the preseason, of course. It doesn’t mean anything."
Though UH loses its top offensive threats from last season in forwards Ambree Ako and Britta Bourne, Tenzing resolved that the Wahine would possess greater punch in 2010. Yesterday was also the first day of official practice as the team tries to recapture the magic of its 2007 WAC championship.
UH missed out on the 2009 WAC tournament as the seventh-place team; only the top six qualify. The Wahine fittingly ranked seventh in the WAC last season in goals-per-game average (1.26).
"We will score more goals this year, that I can assure you. … We set really, really high expectations for ourselves," Tenzing said. "We want to be at the pinnacle of WAC standing at the end of the season, and that’s the end we will be working towards."
Senior midfielder Mari Punzal was the lone UH representative on the preseason All-WAC team. The Kamehameha alum was a first-team All-WAC pick each of the past two seasons.
Tenzing thought she should have been recognized higher, possibly as preseason offensive player of the year. That honor went to forward Shantel Flanary of Utah State, the team picked to win the WAC.
"I’m expecting a humongous senior season from her," Tenzing said of Punzal. "And from (senior defender) Chelsea Deptula."
The UH season begins Aug. 20 vs. Pacific in the OHANA Hotels and Resorts Shootout at Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium.