Shot after shot of the ball went right into the mitts, the body, maybe even off the head of UC Davis goalkeeper Alexis Smith.
With the Hawaii soccer team facing a one-goal deficit in the second half, the Rainbow Wahine fired nine attempts on frame in an attempt to equalize. Smith stopped them all en route to an 11-save effort in a 1-0 Aggies win over the Wahine to open Big West Conference play on Thursday.
UH coach Michele Nagamine credited Smith almost singularly with the result in a postgame phone interview. Sonest Furtado in particular had a couple of attempts that easily could’ve gone in, were it not for Smith throwing herself in the way, Scott Sterling style.
“I absolutely did (think Sonest’s looks were going in). All of her shots were on frame,” Nagamine said. “The keeper played out of her mind and I really have to to give her credit for that. She was the reason we did not score today. It’s not like Sonest took really soft shots. We drove them at her, but she stopped two 1-v-1s. So, we did pepper the goal and we did a good job of creating opportunities.
“At one point in the season, we would’ve killed to have 19 shots in a game. Some games we were held to seven or nine. So, I think we’re coming along and I have to keep telling myself that we’re still a young, inexperienced team. But we’ve played nine games. So I told them, and what point do you learn that you have to mark up somebody in the box? I don’t care how old you are; that’s just common sense. We have to be accountable for what we did not do.”
UH outshot UCD 19-7 in all, but here was the deciding goal by an unmarked Mckenna Moriarty back post off a corner kick (it turned out that was the hosts’ only corner kick of the game, but the only one they needed):
— Big West W-Soccer (@BigWestWSOC) September 28, 2017
It snapped a five-game losing streak for Davis (2-9, 1-0), while sending UH (5-5, 0-1) to a 0-6 mark in BWC openers all-time. They are 2-18-2 in all Big West road games with three more of those to play this season.
Now comes a 3 p.m. (HST) contest Sunday at preseason favorite Long Beach State (6-3-1).
“To make matters worse, Long Beach is off … so they’re going to play us rested on Sunday,” Nagamine said. “It doesn’t get any easier … but this one burns a little bit. When you face a team, they launched balls, they were super direct, every time their backs got the ball they slammed it forward. Their style of play I didn’t feel was, it’s not a style of play we play well against. So we have to do a better job of settling the ball down and taking care of the ball.
But Sunday, Long Beach is a very possession-oriented team. I think it’s going to be a good matchup. I told the kids after the game, we come out with a win on Sunday, it makes this game a lot more digestible. So they know what they need to do. We’re not going for a tie. We’re not in the mind-frame of ‘oh my gosh, we’re going to lose.’ This is one we need to grab on the road.”