Strom-Okimoto goes off in key victory

Raisa Strom-Okimoto took her place among the few Rainbow Wahine players to record a hat trick in a game. / Photo by Craig T. Kojima, Star-Advertiser

Raisa Strom-Okimoto recorded the 13th hat trick in Hawaii soccer history to carry the Rainbow Wahine to a 4-0 win at Cal Poly on Friday night.

It was a breakthrough on multiple fronts for UH (8-5-1, 3-2 Big West), which moved above .500 in conference play for the first time in its seven-year Big West history.

“The team was just so ready to play. We had that week off (last week) and we were hungry,” UH coach Michele Nagamine said in a postgame phone interview.

UH is in third place with three games left in the regular season, including at UC Santa Barbara (2 p.m. HST) on Sunday, as the Wahine try to solidify their standing in the top four in order to qualify for their first Big West tournament.

The Wahine recorded their first victory over Cal Poly (1-12-4, 1-4-1) in seven tries in Big West play, and nine games overall. They were 0-3 in BWC games in San Luis Obispo going into Friday.

“The first time we beat Cal Poly, and we put an exclamation point on the end of it,” Nagamine said of the program’s most lopsided Big West win.

But Strom Okimoto, UH’s senior co-captain, struck in the fifth, 39th and 51st minutes to stake UH to an unshakable lead. She’s up to 11 goals on the season, the most for a Wahine player since 2007, when Taryn Fukuroku and Ambree Ako had 12 apiece.

She has five goals in the last two games.

“She just never ceases to amaze me. That kid just takes us all up and throws us on her back. She plays with so much heart. She’s so explosive and hard to defend. And she really showed that tonight. The team has really rallied around her, and they know what her strengths are and they play to it.”

Her third goal made her just the seventh person to record a hat trick in a UH uniform, and first since Tiana Fujimoto against Idaho State in 2013. The great Natasha Kai had seven hat tricks at UH, including a five-goal game against Morehead State in 2003 that stands as the program’s single-game scoring record.

Strom-Okimoto is now alone in sixth in Wahine career scoring at 21 goals. Fujimoto is next in front of her on the chart at 23.

Freshman Daelenn Tokunaga added a score in the 60th minute, her second of the season. Goalkeeper Lex Mata had six saves for her fifth shutout of the season, and first in Big West play.