Hawaii soccer: Nagamine wins Big West Coach of Year, Mata Goalkeeper of Year

Michele Nagamine is the Big West Coach of the Year for the first time. / Star-Advertiser file photo by Dennis Oda

For the distinction of advancing to the Big West tournament for the first time, the Hawaii soccer team received its largest haul of Big West postseason awards to date on Wednesday.

At the top of the list, Michele Nagamine was named BWC Coach of the Year for the first time in her career, becoming the first UH coach to receive a conference COY since Pinsoom Tenzing in 2007. UH (6-7-4, 4-1-3 BWC) was picked to finish seventh by the league’s coaches in the preseason and instead tied for second along with two other teams.

UPDATE: Nagamine said, “You know, I think it’s just a tremendous honor for me and my staff. I think we go through every year just trying to leave our impact and leave the program better than we found it. Marc (assistant Fournier) and Rachael (assistant Doyle) have just been absolutely exceptional this year. From our organization, to our communication, and just the attention to detail and the care they’ve shown me and the team. I cannot thank them enough. And everybody, this is 100 percent a team award. I’m just so happy for the kids and to have the kind of season that we had, it’s not why we play the game, but it sure is nice to recognize my staff. Stephen Whitehouse is our volunteer assistant coach who’s always training the kids when we’re on the road. And our trainer, Lyn Nakagawa, is basically like another coach for us, another set of eyes. I feel so blessed to be able to work with the kind of people I get to work with every day. So I’m just so happy they could be honored in this way as well.”

Fifth-year senior Alexis Mata was tabbed the Big West Goalkeeper of the Year, becoming the first UH keeper so honored. Her 96 saves statistic was a Big West-best, and the three-year starter and native of Woodland, Calif., kept UH in games consistently with a 1.15 goals-against average.

She’s tied for second with Kori Lu for shutouts in a UH career with 12, and she’s in the top three in just about every other goalkeeper statistic.

Mata is just the third UH keeper to receive all-conference first-team honors, and first since 1999. Demarre Sanchez won it in the WAC that year and Amanda Paterson was a first-team keeper in the WAC Pacific Division in 1996.

Mata made the All-Big West first team along with sophomore forward Kayla Ryan and freshman midfielder Eliza Ammendolia. Three players is the most first-teamers UH has received in its eight years in the Big West. Ryan scored all of her team-high seven goals in Big West play in leading the team’s surge to the tournament. The Australian Ammendolia was a crafty playmaker in the middle and has a team-high four assists.

UPDATE: Mata said, “Honestly it’s just a feeling of being grateful for the season that I’ve had, and the people that I’ve got to work with all year. Kind of a full-circle moment for me, that I can end my career on such a high note. It’s awesome.”

Graduate transfer forward Kayla Watanabe was named to the second team with sophomore center back Elena Palacios. Freshman forward Kelci Sumida, who has the second-most goals in the team with five, was named an honorable mention.

UPDATE: Ryan said: “I definitely think finishing overall is something that got a lot better for me. Now when I take my opportunity to shoot and take looks at goal, I’m much better at being more accurate and getting it in the back of the net, instead of just shooting it just to shoot. I think what else has helped me is I watched a lot of film and looked at some of my movement and some of my touches on the ball, and really just refined those kinds of things.”

Sumida and Ammendolia made the BWC All-Freshman team.

Offensive player of the year (which Raisa Strom-Okimoto won last year) went to UC Santa Barbara’s Shaelan Murison. Murison memorably recorded a hat trick against UH in UCSB’s 4-1 win here on senior night and finished with a league-high 17 goals.

Midfielder of the year went to Fullerton’s Atlanta Primus and defender of the year went to CSUN’s Amanda Martin. Cal State Fullerton defender Megan Day was freshman of the year.

UH faces host Fullerton (12-2-4, 5-0-3) in the Big West semifinals at 5:30 p.m. (HST) on Thursday. The winner advances to Sunday’s championship game with an automatic NCAA tournament berth on the line.

Alexis Mata saved a shot against UC Santa Barbara on Oct. 27. / Photo by Bruce Asato, Star-Advertiser


  1. Ki November 6, 2019 12:46 pm

    Congratulations Michelle Nagamine and Rainbow Wahine for all that you’ve accomplished this season thus far. Keep pressing on!!! 2 more wins and you’re off to the NCAA’s. Go Bows!!

Comments are closed.