Hawaii soccer: 3 Pac-12 teams coming to Waipio in 2019

Michele Nagamine last brought in three Pac-12 opponents in a single season back in 2014. / Star-Advertiser file photo by Dennis Oda

As degree-of-difficulty points go, the just-released 2019 Hawaii soccer schedule nets close to a 10 out of 10.

The Rainbow Wahine will host three Pac-12 teams at Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium, matching a program high, and take a doozy of a road trip to the Dakotas for three games in five days in September.

“This is among the most challenging, if not the most challenging, because of the Dakotas road trip as well,” said ninth-year UH coach Michele Nagamine of schedules during her tenure. “We opted to try to get more home games scheduled, which meant scheduling a little bit harder, higher caliber opponents.”

The three Pac-12 teams coming are USC (the season opener Aug. 22), Washington State (Sept. 19), and UCLA (Sept. 22). UCLA made it to the College Cup elite eight last fall, losing to eventual runner-up North Carolina on penalty kicks. USC made it to the round of 16 and went down on penalty kicks to eventual national champion Florida State. Washington State won a game in the tourney before falling to one of the No. 1 seeds, Georgetown.

(You can see the full schedule below.)

Nagamine was unapologetic about it.

“You’ve got three of the perennial top teams in the Pac-12 (coming). We’re really excited about it,” she said. “We need to play games like this to prepare us for conference. That’s just the nature of the business when you’re at Hawaii. I know most people, when they see our schedule, they’ll be, ‘are you crazy, you’re playing UCLA and USC?’ Yeah, but for us, scheduling, we have to do it based on who can afford to come here and who can make the trips out. As budgets get tighter across the country and everybody’s tightening the purse strings, we’re not going to complain about it. We get to play good competition, and that’s going to prepare us for conference.”

It matches 2014 as the most Pac-12 schools UH has hosted in a season (Arizona State, UCLA and Washington State came to Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium that year). The meeting with top-ranked UCLA on Sept. 5, 2014, drew a record crowd of an estimated 4,366 for the 6-0 Bruins win. The Bruins had a local product then in defender Caprice Dydasco out of Kamehameha and will again this time in recent Pearl City grad Sunshine Fontes, although Fontes is expected to miss most or all of the 2019 season as she recovers from an injury.

“We’re proud of the schedule we put together,” Nagamine said. “To be able to get good games at home, against good, solid teams … everybody always talks about RPI and doing the right things to grow. And if you want to grow your program, these are the kind of teams you need to play. It gives your kids a true idea of where they stand in relation to some of the top teams in the country, and helps the learning process when you can actually say, ‘if this is where we’re aspiring to be, these are the things that need to happen first.’ ”

In between are home dates with three opponents of three other Western conferences in San Francisco (West Coast Conference, Aug. 26), Nevada (Mountain West, Aug. 29), and Sacramento State (Big Sky, Aug. 31).

UH journeys to North Dakota State (Sept. 6), North Dakota (Sept. 8) and South Dakota State (Sept. 10) in the midst of nonconference play.

“That’s gonna be a tough trip,” Nagamine said. “(Last year) with the hurricane (threat), we lost some games. We needed to do everything that we could to preserve our tournaments. In order to do that, that meant doing a return trip to the Dakotas. My only regret is we don’t get to take the kids to Mount Rushmore because South Dakota is just way too big. You can’t just drive there; we don’t have the time. We will be looking forward to that trip because it’s something different, and something that will prepare our kids, to play that many games in that short (amount) of time. … We’ll be better for it in the long run.”

The Big West opener is at home against Cal State Northridge on Oct. 3. UH, which went 9-7-1 (4-4 Big West) in 2018, narrowly missed out on its first conference tournament appearance and finished in fifth.

RECORD: 6-8-4, 4-1-3 Big West

8/22/19USCLower Campus FieldL, 0-3
8/26/19San FranciscoLower Campus FieldL, 2-3, OT
8/29/19NevadaLower Campus FieldW, 1-0, OT
8/31/19Sacramento StateLower Campus FieldT, 0-0, 2OT
9/6/19at North Dakota StateFargo, NDW, 1-0
9/8/19at North DakotaGrand Forks, NDL, 1-2, 2OT
9/10/19at South Dakota StateVermillion, SDL, 0-1
9/14/19Alumnae exhibitionLower Campus Field
9/19/19Washington StateWPSSL, 0-1
9/22/19UCLAWPSSL, 0-4
10/3/19Cal State Northridge*WPSSW, 2-1, OT
10/10/19UC Irvine*WPSSW, 3-0
10/17/19at UC Riverside*Riverside, Calif.W, 2-0
10/20/19at Cal State Fullerton*Fullerton, Calif.T, 1-1, 2OT
10/24/19Cal Poly*WPSST, 1-1, 2OT
10/27/19UC Santa Barbara*WPSSL, 1-4
10/31/19at UC Davis*Davis, Calif.W, 3-2
11/3/19at Long Beach State*Long Beach, Calif.T, 1-1, 2OT
11/7/19at Cal State Fullerton (Big West semifinals)Fullerton, Calif.L, 0-3
* — Big West game
All times Hawaii time