A couple of former Hawaii soccer standouts of different eras came together to help bring home a professional championship.
Natasha Kai and Sonest Furtado, who played more than a decade apart for the Rainbow Wahine, were among the victorious LA Galaxy Orange County side that won the United Women’s Soccer title, 1-0 over host Calgary Foothills WFC in Canada on Tuesday.
The UWS is a semi-pro, 23-team league a step below the National Women’s Soccer League. It was the fourth championship awarded in the league’s brief history. LA Galaxy OC went 7-1-2 on the season.
Furtado, a Waianae native who wrapped up her UH career in 2017, scored two goals with one assist during the regular season. She messaged Hawaii Warrior World on Tuesday night: “Winning the UWS national title was such an awarding feeling and doing it with one of my biggest role models (Tasha) was like a dream come true. I have never played on the same team as Tasha before and just being on the same side as her, I was star struck. Having another Hawaiian sister on the team made me feel at home, and we would always crack up laughing when we would talk to each other in pidgin and everyone would look at us like we were crazy.
“But just seeing the success of our LA Galaxy OC women’s team and how far we came, it was amazing. We worked so hard all summer and to see our hard work pay off was such a relief. We all had one goal the whole season and that was to win the national championship and to be the best semi-pro team on the planet, and we definitely fulfilled that goal.
“The team we ended up beating in the championship final we had played them twice earlier in the season and we had lost one match and tied the other. But to finally beat them in the most important game of the year was the best feeling ever. I’d like to call it … third time’s a charm.”
Kai, the former three-time WAC player of the year (2002, ’03, ’05) and gold medal Olympian (2008), scored two goals in the quarterfinals. She told SoccerToday.com: “This past weekend was amazing. Our team was the underdogs getting into UWS playoffs and we were the underdogs in the final 4. We were also definitely underdogs in the championship game.”
UH coach Michele Nagamine, who recruited Furtado to UH, noted she coached them a decade apart on her Leahi club teams (’83 for Kai and ’96 for Furtado).
“Talk about full circle!” she messaged.
Catarina Macario scored the deciding goal in the 72nd minute for LA Galaxy OC. Goalkeeper Hillary Beall earned the shutout. LA Galaxy OC is coached by Scott Juniper, who doubles as the UC Irvine women’s soccer coach.
Here’s a few more celebration photos of Kai and Furtado, courtesy of Furtado:
In other news regarding former UH soccer players, Raisa Strom-Okimoto and Addie Steiner recently had their National Team Replacement contracts extended to the rest of the National Women’s Soccer League seasons by their respective clubs, the Utah Royals and the Seattle Reign.
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So very excited and thankful to be given the opportunity to play in the NWSL for the remainder of this season. Never thought I’d get there, but here we are. A big thank you to @reignfc and @kif_orebro for supporting me and allowing me to pursue my childhood dream closer to home on American soil. The soccer journey is unpredictable and sacrificial in ways many don’t understand but it’s all been worth it to get to this point in my career!