It’s not quite in the upper echelon of the Big West, but neither is it basement placement.
The Hawaii women’s soccer team was picked fifth by the league’s nine coaches in the Big West preseason poll released on Wednesday.
Sophomore striker Kama Pascua was tabbed as the team’s lone representative on the 11-player All-Big West preseason team. Pascua is the team’s top returning scorer (four goals last season) with senior Tiana Fujimoto redshirting the season due to injury. Fujimoto scored 10 goals last season and was a Big West first-teamer as UH finished 8-8-1 (3-4-1 BW, T-5th).
Cal Poly, the 2013 regular-season champion, was picked to win the league with Offensive Player of the Year Elise Krieghoff (NCAA-best 21 goals last season) returning. Cal State Fullerton, the 2013 BW tourney champion, was picked fourth.
Fifth is the highest preseason placement for UH in Michele Nagamine‘s four years as coach, including one season in the Western Athletic Conference. It projects the Rainbow Wahine to finish just outside of the four-team conference tournament, something the ‘Bows have yet to qualify for in the Big West. It’s their primary objective at this point.
In each of Nagamine’s first three seasons, the Wahine have exceeded their preseason selection, sometimes drastically.
>> 2011: In Nagamine’s first season, UH was picked seventh in the WAC and finished in a tie for third (4-2-1)
>> 2012: UH was picked to finish last in its first Big West season, and instead finished 3-5-1, tied for sixth.
>> 2013: The Wahine gained a little respect in their new league and were picked seventh. They went 3-4-1 to finish tied for fifth and missed out on the conference tournament by a very narrow margin.
Here’s this year’s breakdown:
2014 Big West preseason coaches poll
Team (1st place votes) – Points
1. Cal Poly (6) — 77
2. UC Irvine (2) — 64
3. Long Beach State — 59
4. Cal State Fullerton (1) — 58
5. Hawaii — 37
6. UCSB — 30
7. Cal State Northridge — 27
UC Davis — 27
9. UC Riverside — 26