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Wahine hit road, books

Twelve days off campus won’t be a break from the books.

The Hawaii soccer team departed on its longest road trip of head coach Michele Nagamine’s tenure on Wednesday, a fourgame trek with stops in three states and plenty of study time built into the itinerary to compensate for missed class time.

“We usually study more on the road than we do at home, we crack down on them pretty good,” Nagamine said. “We understand the challenges of being away. I had a hard enough time when I went to class every day getting good grades. So I really have to hand it to these kids because they work extremely hard when they’re out of the classroom.”

The trip starts in Utah, where the Rainbow Wahine (2-4) face reigning Big Sky Conference tournament champion Weber State (32) on Friday. They’ll then drive north to take on Idaho State (1-2) on Sunday.

The Wahine will make an offday detour to Yellowstone National Park on their drive to Missoula, Mont., for the Montana Invitational. They’ll play Eastern Washington on Sept. 19 and the host Grizzlies two days later.

Before leaving, Nagamine said the players coordinated assignments with their professors and will be met in Montana by an academic advisor to help administer study halls.

“There’s a lot of reading they’re going to have to do,” Nagamine said. “Coming back with midterms coming up, that’s going to be kind of hairy, too.

“This is part of being a student-athlete. This is the part people sometimes forget about. When you go on the road you have to do the work. We’re not going on a vacation.”

When the schedule was finalized, Nagamine said staying on the road was preferable to returning home on Monday, attending one day of class then flying out again.

“We’re all excited because we’re going to be away for a while,” said senior Krystal Pascua, UH’s leading scorer with three goals. “We like being with each other, we’re like a family.”

The Rainbow Wahine have had quite an education on the pitch through six matches, which included three losses to Pac-12 teams in No. 1 UCLA, Arizona State and Washington State and another to Texas. Aside from their win over Northern Illinois and the 6-0 loss to UCLA, the Wahine scored first the other four matches.

“Sometimes when you have such a young team you just worry about the big picture. Can we play well, can we maintain our shape, can we create opportunities for goals. … What we want to do now is start paying attention to the details,” Nagamine said.

Nagamine said those details were the thrust of the team’s last on-campus practice before starting its journey.

“Playing such a high caliber schedule has exposed us in the ways we needed to be exposed, so (Tuesday’s) practice was very detail oriented,” Nagamine said. “So I kind of got in their face and did a lot of fitness with them. That to me is what’s going to build the mental toughness and help us close the door.”

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