Maybe it would have been better to play this one in Ruston, La.
The mysterious home disadvantage of Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium continued to haunt the Hawaii women’s soccer team, which fell 3-0 to Louisiana Tech last night.
A crowd of 463 on an oppressively hot night saw UH’s Western Athletic Conference tournament hopes wither. With the UH loss, Fresno State passed the Wahine in the standings for sixth place. UH (3-12-2, 1-3-1 WAC) needs a top-six finish to qualify for the tourney, and has three more matches to better its standing.
UH was coming off an uplifting combination of a road win and a road tie in its past two WAC matches, but the Wahine were quickly brought back to Earth at home by the Lady Techsters (14-5, 4-3 WAC).
UH’s school-record home losing streak stretched to seven matches, and the Wahine lost for the first time ever to LaTech in six meetings.
The Wahine will try to conjure some sort of positive outcome at WPSS tomorrow, when they take on New Mexico State (7-7-2, 1-5) at 5 p.m. in their home finale. It’s also senior night for four UH players.
"We’ve got to win on Sunday, or else it’s going to be really, really tough (to make the tourney)," UH coach Pinsoom Tenzing said. "It’s just critical for us."
"We’re gonna win," junior midfielder Rachel Domingo said. "Play simpler combinations, and play our game, not their game."
UH trailed 1-0 after the 22nd minute, but was feisty enough in front of the LaTech goal to give the crowd fleeing hope.
A couple of beautiful Wahine crosses in the second half were for naught, most notably one served up by senior forward Caycie Gusman with 24 minutes left that sailed past two Wahine attackers.
"They put us in tremendous pressure, and we just got lucky," LaTech coach Kevin Sherry said. "The amount of chances they had in front of the goal area, that’s what soccer’s about. Some days someone’s there to tap it in, and some days it just misses by an inch."
It was the latter kind of night for UH, which matched the visitors shot for shot. But LaTech junior forward Rachel King was the difference, as she was instrumental in all three Techsters goals.
LaTech got on the board when Mo Rockwell hit a streaking King with a perfect through ball on the left side, and King launched a cross parallel to the goal line. Olivia Lukasewich attacked from the far side and buried the offering in the net, putting the Wahine in a tough — yet familiar — spot at home.
Hawaii goalkeeper Kanani Taaca made two great diving stops in the opening moments of the second half to keep the deficit manageable.
But then King was taken down from behind in the penalty box in the 77th minute, and Scotti Culton put in the penalty shot to the right of Taaca.
Finally, a King shot deflected by Taaca was put in on the rebound by Kiva Gresham in the 79th minute.