Soccer homestand rolls on

The practice pitch is empty. UH has business out at Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium.

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Hawaii 2, UC Santa Barbara 1, FINAL

FINAL — UH snaps a six-game Big West losing streak going back to last season. Sonest Furtado with her 12th and 13th career goals, the first of her career in Big West play.

90th minute — Final chance here for UCSB as Kiri Dale is yellow carded on a hand ball from about 25 yards. Free kick coming for the Gauchos … ball is snagged by Lex Mata. Great save to seal it.

85th minute — Hawaii 2, UC Santa Barbara 1. Keala Parker-Lee boots it upfield accurately to Furtado, who cuts to her right and rockets it to the upper left corner from about 15 yards. Keeper had no chance, and Furtado goes from no Big West goals to two. UCSB has four minutes to equalize.

75th minute — The teams have settled into a closely matched stalemate.

64th minute — The yellow cards are coming out rapidly now. UCSB’s Sydney Magnin and Amanda Ball and UH’s Keala Parker-Lee get shown the lamination.

57th minute — Furtado NEARLY puts the Wahine ahead with some outstanding dribbling in the box. She aims to the upper right corner but has it saved by the UCSB second-half goalkeeper Maddie Julian.

50th minute — UH earns its first corner kick of the game, but can’t get anything off of the set piece.

HALF — Hawaii 1, UC Santa Barbara 1. Things all square thanks to Furtado’s 12th career goal (fifth of the season). Teams with six shots each, but it was UH that came on strong near the end of the period.

45th minute — Hawaii 1, UC Santa Barbara 1. HUGE breakthrough for senior Sonest Furtado, who scores her first career Big West goal on a nice reversal to the near post from within the box with 57 seconds left in the half. That puts an end to a lot of near chances in Big West play for the Waianae High product. Assist awarded to Tia Furuta.

41st minute — Strom-Okimoto earns a foul from just outside the box and lines up the free kick. She cranks it just wide. Had the right height and strength.

39th minute — Raisa Strom-Okimoto on a breakaway, teammates to her flanks … she makes a final juke and lets one rip, but it’s blocked by the Gauchos defense.

30th minute — Lex Mata makes a very impressive, leaping punch-over-the-crossbar save to keep it a one-score game.

17th minute — UC Santa Barbara 1, Hawaii 0. UH pays the price allowing another corner kick, as Sydney Magnin puts one in from a close-range ricochet.

10th minute — Rainbow Wahine getting outpossessed big time. Ball has remained almost exclusively in the UH defensive half.

4th minute — The Gauchos earn three corner kicks in the first four minutes. Does not bode well.

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The Big West has proven its mettle in soccer once again.

The league’s top-to-bottom best women’s sport has taken its toll on Hawaii (5-7, 0-3 BWC), which has dropped its first three league games (and six straight going back to last season) heading into today’s 7 p.m. contest against UC Santa Barbara.

The second game of UH’s final, four-game homestand is being televised on Spectrum Sports.

UH coach Michele Nagamine said her team is taking the old, tried-and-true one-game-at-a-time approach instead of worrying about the four-team Big West tournament at this point.

“That’s the smart thing to do, not worry about any opponent is doing,” she said. “We’re focusing on getting three points (today) and that’s it.”

UCSB (4-6-4, 0-2-1 BWC) will be a tough out. The Gauchos boast the conference’s top scorer in Amanda Ball, who’s netted eight balls this year. By contrast, UH has netted 11 as a team.

“It’s been nice seeing her grow up through the years,” Nagamine noted. “She’s always a threat. She’s one of those kids that works hard from start to finish. She has the knack for putting the ball in the back of the net. We’ll have our hands full with her.”

UH showed some offensive life on Sunday, when lost 3-2 to UC Irvine. The Wahine rallied from an early goal by the Anteaters, getting first-half scores from Dani Crawford and Lei Medeiros to go up 2-1 before the team lapsed in the second half.

It was the first multi-goal UH performance in a loss since a 3-2 setback at UCSB on Oct. 2 last year.

“UC Irvine didn’t expect us to come out playing this hard,” Medeiros said after putting in her first career goal. “They thought we were an easy team to beat, easy game. We came out really hard, and that’s how we got our first two goals. We lost it a little bit in the second half, and we gained it back. It was just hard luck we couldn’t get one more goal in to tie the game.”

The growing pains have been many for the young, injury-wracked UH back line this season.

It’s been Cristina Drossos and Kiri Dale as the center backs lately, with Sammi Walker and Taylor Mason the outer backs.

UCSB’s back line has also been vulnerable. The Gauchos have given up 21 goals in 14 games, compared to 17 in 12 for UH.

“The consistency is probably not where either team wants it to be,” Nagamine said. “But we’re going to match up nicely from an athletic, physical point of view. … I think there’s going to be holes on both sides. It’s going to come down to, who’s going to defend more soundly? It’s going to come down to the keepers as well.”

Mason, who came to UH all the way from Georgia, said she has enjoyed her experience getting adapted to the islands and dealing with challenges on the fly as a freshman.

“We need to come out composed and get one on them early,” Mason said of UCSB.

“It’s been tough losing Paige (Okazaki), one of our biggest leaders,” she said. “But we’ve adapted. Last game I think we actually did pretty well back there with our new outer back (Walker) and our new center back (Dale). So we’re adjusting, getting used to do it. We can do our best, and that’s all we can really do.”

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