Hawaii needed to beat Wagner by two or more goals to claim the OHANA Hotels and Resorts Soccer Shootout at Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium.
The Rainbow Wahine got that twice over, pouring in three goals in the second half for a 4-0 win yesterday before a crowd of 572.
It was an important bounce-back win for UH (1-1), which fell to Pacific 1-0 in the tournament opener on Friday. Not only did the Wahine take the title of the three-team tournament thanks to goal differential, but they felt much better about their team execution spurred by a key adjustment at midfield.
UH coach Pinsoom Tenzing moved senior defender Chelsea Deptula up to the middle, leaving UH with three defenders for most of the match. The gambit paid off, as the Wahine overwhelmingly won possessions and kept the pressure on for the full 90 minutes. UH outshot Wagner 23-1.
"It was a big change. We hadn’t practiced that ever, three in the back," said Deptula, who notched an assist on the tournament-winning goal, a breakaway shot by tourney MVP Mari Punzal. "We had to deal with it and just play. (Coach) was looking for more of an offensive game today. And it worked! The team did good."
Saeko Nagano, Punzal, Skye Shimabukuro and Bree Locquiao scored for the Wahine, who had their most goals since a 4-1 win over Hawaii Pacific on Aug. 30 last year.
"All-around better soccer," said Tenzing, who played every available player. "(Deptula) is a big presence in the middle of the field with her size (5-8) and her ability to win balls in the air. We pinned them down in their own half of the field."
It was UH’s first meeting with the Seahawks of the Northeast Conference. Wagner, playing on back-to-back nights, couldn’t replicate the energy from a 1-0 win over Pacific on Saturday.
"I think playing back-to-back (hurt us)," Wagner coach Mike Minielli said. "Hawaii had a day off. I think that had something to do with the game, but Hawaii just played well and we didn’t."
Hawaii goalkeepers Kanani Taaca and Kristina Ehrett combined for the shutout.
The only negative for UH was a possible injury to junior midfielder Rachel Domingo, who went out with a hurt right ankle in the second half. She was on crutches with her foot wrapped after the game, but said she hoped it was just a tweak.