For the second time in three days, an allowed goal in the final minutes of a game sunk the Hawaii soccer team.
UH battled South Dakota State to a standstill for nearly all of the finale of its three-game road trip. But the Jackrabbits of the Summit League got a second-effort rebound goal from Leah Manuleleua in the 85th minute to top the Rainbow Wahine 1-0 on Tuesday evening in Merillion, S.D.
The Wahine (2-4-1) were shut out for the third time this season in getting outshot 14-5. They completed their three-game road trip through North and South Dakota at 1-2, dropping the last two in frustrating fashion after winning the first leg at North Dakota State.
UH coach Michele Nagamine called it another “winnable” game in a postgame phone interview and said that the shot count shocked her, noting that her team came out with energetic play and goalkeeper Lex Mata never had to extend for a tough save.
“We never felt like we were chasing the game. We never felt like we were behind,” Nagamine said. “We knew they were coming off (a few days of rest), so I expected them to really take it to us, but that was not the case. We set the pace pretty well. We got forward today. We gapped out a little bit between the midfields and the forwards in the first half. And also our starting position was a little bit low today. We need to start pushing people up higher. So we’ve got some tinkering to do. We played everybody again today, because we’re still searching for our identity as a team.”
UH led much of the way at North Dakota on Sunday, only to give up an 88th-minute equalizer to the Fighting Hawks and lose in double overtime.
This time, UH had a handful of chances as it held its opponent scoreless in the first half for the fifth time in six games. But a scoring threat up top was once again hard to come by; just three Wahine shots were on frame. UH had a first-half goal disallowed off a corner kick due to an offsides call.
Nagamine noted the Jackrabbits’ off-campus field was tough to get used to with its bushy grass that slowed the pace of the ball to a crawl.
“There could have been jackrabbits in that field and we wouldn’t have known,” she quipped.
Manuleleua scored on a short-range cross from a teammate along the goal line and fired her first shot straight at Mata, who deflected it right back to her. Manuleleua chipped her second effort in from point-blank range to put SDSU (3-3) on top.
Nagamine said there was value in the road trip and playing three games in five days — constructed in large part for return games for teams who came to play or who will play in Honolulu — but that the program probably would not again venture as far as the Central Time Zone anytime soon.
UH has its alumnae game tentatively scheduled for 5 p.m. Saturday at the UH Lower Campus field. However, the game might not be played due to a shortage of available alumnae, Nagamine indicated this week.
“We’re still trying to find that offensive answer,” Nagamine said. “We’re looking forward to getting home and having some time to really work on that.”
UH hosts No. 13 Washington State (Sept. 19) and No. 5 UCLA (Sept. 22) in the Rainbow Wahine shootout in its next official action. The site of those games (on campus or at Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium) is to be determined.