Hawaii soccer: Ryan scores twice as Wahine dramatically win first Big West opener

The Hawaii soccer team gathered on the Waipio field after beating Cal State Northridge 2-1 in overtime to open Big West play Thursday. / Photo by Dave Reardon

For the first time ever, the University of Hawaii soccer team can look at the Big West standings and see 1.000 next to its name.

The Rainbow Wahine had lost their opener in all seven years of conference membership going back to 2012. UH finally broke that slump Thursday, and in dramatic fashion with a come-from-behind 2-1 victory over Cal State Northridge at Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium.

The Wahine are 3-6-1 overall. Northridge is 6-4-3.

UH broke a four-game losing streak and finally scored after three matches in a row with no goals.

“We told the kids (heading into Thursday’s match) what matters is it’s zero-zero-zero (in the Big West),” Hawaii coach Michele Nagamine said. “It doesn’t matter what happened in preseason. We learned a lot. You could see the tide turn for us today and they couldn’t have had better timing.”

Sophomore Kayla Ryan scored both of Hawaii’s goals in her first start of the season. They were the first goals of her college career, and just the sixth and seventh for UH this season.

The Rainbow Wahine lost their top three scorers — Raisa Strom-Okimoto, Leialoha Medeiros and Sarah Lau — from last year.

“We’ve really been working hard as a team watching film, working on our attacking, all of that to get it to the back of the net,” Ryan said. “Nice to see all of that pay off for us.”

Ryan re-dyed some of her hair pink on Monday, something she has done since she was “a little kid” for big swim meets as well as soccer matches.

“I guess it works,” Nagamine said. “Maybe I should dye my hair.”

Nagamine and senior goalkeeper Alexis Mata both said the team is especially happy for Ryan. She kept a positive attitude despite not making the team’s travel roster for its road trip last month to North and South Dakota.

The first thing Ryan did when she found out she wasn’t going on the road was head to the practice field, Nagamine said.

“That kid, everyone’s so proud of her,” Mata said. “She proved right away she belonged there. Taking extra reps, working out even by herself.”

In the first half Thursday it looked like UH’s woes might continue, as the Wahine managed just one shot on goal and Northridge went up 1-0 in the 38th minute on a goal by Cora Willcot.

But Hawaii’s offense finally clicked, and Morgan Meza and Ryan connected for the tying goal six minutes into the second half. As the period progressed, UH gained momentum and nearly scored three times in the final two minutes of regulation — including a 15-footer by Ryan that hit the crossbar with five seconds left.

The Wahine focused on “purposeful possession” after halftime, Nagamine said. And UH did a better job of stretching and “unbalancing” Northridge’s defense, Ryan said.

The break after regulation did nothing to slow down the Wahine, and Ryan scored again from close range off a feed from Kayla Watanabe just 71 seconds into OT.

“The past few games we’ve been struggling with playing the full 90 minutes and teams would score on us late. That was disheartening for us,” Ryan said. “We came out in this game saying that we’re going to go the full distance. When we came out tied after the second half, we said, ‘We’ve got this, it’s going to come.’ And it did.”

Mata made six saves and the Matadors had 15 shots to 10 for the Wahine.

“The team attitude is always never say die,” Mata said. “I think that’s the kind of team we are. Doesn’t matter if we’re down 1, 2, 3, we’re going to keep fighting to the end.”

UH hosts UC Irvine (2-9, 1-0 BWC) on Oct. 10 in another single-game week.


  1. islandman October 4, 2019 5:43 am

    Thanks for the report Dave.

  2. H-Man October 4, 2019 9:06 am

    Congrats to the Wahine for the win. I presume Kayla Ryan will travel with the team on the next road trip to California.

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