Hawaii soccer: Rainbow Wahine embrace playing on campus after Waipio field damaged

Here is the field at Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium on Monday. The grass was damaged due to a chemical residue that ran off from the bleachers during heavy rain. / Photo by Brian McInnis

The Hawaii women’s soccer team is determined to make the most of a tough situation.

UH has been displaced from its regular home for four games at Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium because some chemical resin seeped into the field from the bleachers in late June. The grass — including sections of the field a few yards into play along either sideline — has yet to recover.

The first two tournaments of the season have been moved to the UH Lower Campus field adjacent to Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium and the football practice field, across Lower Campus Road from Les Murakami Stadium. The tournaments are the Outrigger Soccer Kickoff vs. USC (Aug. 22) and San Francisco (Aug. 26), and the Rainbow Wahine Soccer Invitational vs. Nevada (Aug. 29) and Sacramento State (Aug. 31).

“Of course Waipio is like our home stadium. That’s where we love to go. We love to get the fans out there,” said fifth-year senior goalkeeper Lex Mata. “But hey, it’s an opportunity to play on campus, to get some of the students out here. I think that’s kind of the positive spin we’re putting on this whole situation. It doesn’t matter where we’re going to play. Our mentality doesn’t change. We want to win.”

All matches have been moved up to 3:30 p.m. because of the absence of lights at UH’s grass field, according to UH associate athletic director Carl Clapp. Other logistics, like portable seating, a scoreboard, and team locker room access is still being worked out by UH, which has notified the other teams of the situation.

UH will play its first two tournaments on its Lower Campus Field as a result of damage to its regular site at Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium. / Photo by Brian McInnis

UH coach Michele Nagamine is determined to take a “glass-half-full” approach to the situation.

“The field condition is the best I’ve seen in all of the time I’ve been here,” Nagamine said of UH’s practice area. “(The facilities crew) has been working really hard and I appreciate all the efforts. We’re very happy. They’ve really gone a good job of getting it up to speed.

“Plan on bringing a picnic blanket and some lawn chairs. It’ll be like good, old-fashioned soccer at the park. It’s a chance for our town fans to see us in action,” she said. “Maybe now we can get some students out to the game and give the students a whole new experience. We’re going to make the best of it and do it up right.”

Admission will be free, like Waipio games, although parking on lower campus costs $5 in the afternoon.

UH, knowing it might have to play on its grass practice field in the event Waipio did not recover in time to start the year, has taken immaculate care of its field while it practices on it. There is only one patch on it that recently needed to be filled in and repaired, and UH will stay clear of that area until game time.


“It’s great. I’ve never seen it in this great condition,” junior center back Cristina Drossos said. “It’s looking really good. It’s short grass, but the ball moves quick. The ball moves really nice. There’s nothing to complain about, really.”

The dimensions are the same as Waipio’s. There’s just some areas, around a couple of the corners in particular, that there isn’t a ton of space out of bounds.

It’s been a common discussion over the years whether the UH soccer team should play its games on campus; distant Waipio has been its home since the facility’s completion in 2000. Under the right conditions — which is most of the time — WPSS can really shine as a venue. Former athletic director Ben Jay was a prominent supporter of moving Wahine games to campus, but there are no immediate plans under David Matlin for a permanent relocation.

The turf football field at UH’s T.C. Ching Athletics Complex is not available for play right now due to renovations being performed on the outlying track. The Ching field is in theory playable, but is too narrow for ideal soccer play at present, until the track is theoretically widened in the future to accommodate a wider field. And that wouldn’t happen until the incoming track outlives its usefulness in another decade-plus.

In addition, the team’s preference is to play on grass.

The last time UH played an official game on its grass practice field was against Hawaii Pacific on Sept. 25, 2013, in front of about 200 people. That was due to UH being unable to secure a permit to play at WPSS for the game added late to the schedule.

In 2014, Texas threatened not to play at WPSS in a season-opening tournament because of what it deemed as unsafe field conditions but eventually agreed to play after emergency maintenance and leveling repairs were conducted. There were no known field issues through the 2018 season.

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Here’s other shots from Waipio:


The front-left corner of the playing area upon entry to WPSS.
The front-right corner of the playing area upon entry to WPSS.
Looking toward the scoreboard from the WPSS bleachers.

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Here’s a couple shots of UH’s game against HPU on the campus grass field in 2013:

Tiana Fujimoto (assisted by T.J. Reyno) scored against HPU at the Lower Campus Field on Sept. 25, 2013. / Star-Advertiser file photo by Dennis Oda
HPU goalkeeper Anu Kahele-Manners just missed the ball that settled in the net and scored the winning goal for UH. / Star-Advertiser file photo by Dennis Oda

COMMENTS

  1. iGrokSpock August 14, 2019 12:15 pm

    That WPSS field looks waaaaaaay better than my yard.


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