UPDATE: In the wake of a long layoff caused by Hurricane Lane, the Hawaii soccer team pulled off an impressive comeback 2-1 victory at Saint Mary’s of the West Coast Conference today.
UH stormed back from a goal down with four minutes left in regulation in Moraga, and Raisa Strom-Okimoto scored on a counterattack and 1-on-1 with the goalkeeper to equalize it 1-1 in the 87th minute.
Then, in overtime, Strom-Okimoto launched a corner kick that caused a scrum in front of the net, and Leialoha Medeiros converted for the golden goal in the 98th minute, stunning the Gaels (2-3), who’d scored just before halftime on a steal and shot by Mililani alumna Kailana Kaeo and looked poised to hold on most of the way.
“I absolutely did (think we could come back),” coach Michele Nagamine said in a postgame phone interview. “We had a great first half. We had one really bad error, they capitalized on it, but I thought we had the run of play through the first half. It was pretty even as far as the shots were concerned. … But we moved the ball around nicely. Getting into the second half, we had so much more momentum. The kids responded well to the adversity of going down. I really hand it to the team for staying mentally focused throughout the whole entire game.”
It was the second goal of the season for the senior co-captain Strom-Okimoto (12th career), and first of the season and second career for the sophomore Medeiros.
The Rainbow Wahine were previously 0-3 all time at SMC, which led the series 10-2 overall going into Thursday. It was the second time in three seasons the Wahine topped the Gaels.
UH (2-1) continues play at Pacific (1-3) at 10 a.m. (HST) Sunday.
The University of Hawaii program most affected by Hurricane Lane is finally back in action today.
UH soccer (1-1), which had home games against Montana and Arizona State nixed because of Lane’s march toward the islands last week, plays at Saint Mary’s for its first official action in 11 days — an eternity during the relatively short NCAA soccer season.
Today’s game at SMC (12:30 p.m. Hawaii time kickoff) is being live streamed here.
“It’s been a long break,” coach Michele Nagamine said prior to her team’s departure for the mainland Tuesday. “Well I’m all for rest and recovery, I thought that was a little much.”
While campus was shut down in the face of the storm, and UH not officially allowed to coach the team there, players took it upon themselves to go to their practice field and get some work in.
“We were all frustrated when we found out Arizona (State) and Montana weren’t coming anymore,” said goalkeeper Lex Mata, who recorded her third career shutout the match before against Bowling Green. “And honestly, the storm, it was real easy to be unfocused. But as a team we decided we need to pull together, let’s watch some film, let’s not forget we’re in midseason. Just stay focused. So we actually managed to have some team practices, even though we weren’t allowed to use facilities and stuff. We kind of took it upon ourselves, to make sure we got got some touches on the ball. So that was really good.”
That said, the team’s attempts to jump-start itself in full practices post-hurricane were … interesting.
“I thought it looked like a training after a hurricane scare after not training for a week,” Nagamine said.
This two-game trip to Northern California gives the Rainbow Wahine testers against West Coast Conference teams, but games that they could net a result (win or draw) if they play well. Temperatures on the pitch are expected to be high.
Saint Mary’s is 2-2. The Gaels lost games at Big West schools UC Riverside and Cal State Fullerton, but then went to Vermont for a two-game tournament and swept it, with both victories happening in overtime. UH beat SMC 1-0 at WPSS in 2016 in the last time the teams met, which was just the second Wahine win in the 10-game series.
Pacific, Sunday’s opponent, is 1-3.
Check back here for halftime and postgame updates of the Saint Mary’s game.