The 2019 Rainbow Wahine soccer team made history, reaching the Big West Tournament for the first time in program history. The Wahine finished with a 6-7-4 overall record, but excelled in conference play with a 4-1-3 conference record. After taking UC Davis down on the road 3-2, the ‘Bows clinched their first postseason birth since joining the Big West Conference in 2012 (with the help of UC Irvine’s loss to Cal Poly).
Following the conclusion of the regular season, the Wahine earned a bevy of awards and All-Conference Selections.
Head coach Michele Nagamine was named the Big West Conference Coach of the Year for the first time in her nine-year run as ‘Bows head coach. The team’s 4-1-3 record was the program’s best win percentage ever in conference play. The Wahine ranked second in the Big West with 14 goals scored against conference opponents. The team also ranked second in the conference with 14 assists and 42 total points on the season. The team also third with just 10 goals allowed.
The senior leading that stout defense was Alexis Mata. She was named the Big West Goalkeeper of the Year, leading the conference with 96 saves this year, tying her single season career high. She ranked near the top of every major goalkeeping statistic. She led the conference in minutes played at 1636:11, finished second with a .800 save percentage, and third with 5 shutout games. Mata was rewarded with an All-Conference first team selection, one of three Wahine to earn the honor.
Sophomore forward Kayla Ryan, who led the team with seven goals (all against conference opponents), was also named to the first team. Rounding out the list was midfielder Eliza Ammendolia. The freshman opened the season on the bench, before working her way into the starting lineup. She led the team with four assists and frequently drew double teams to create space for her teammates.
Hawai’i also had a pair of All-Conference Second Team selections. Idaho graduate transfer Kayla Watanabe returned to Hawai’i for her final season. The forward racked up three assists and two goals, but made her presence felt off the stat sheet. She drew so much attention from opposing defenders that opportunities opened up for her teammates. Meanwhile, sophomore defender Elena Palacios was named to the All-Conference second team for leading a defense that allowed just 10 goals in 8 conference games. She was a common sight on the field, playing every minute of the conference schedule. In fact, she play every minute of every game this season, with the exception of the team’s tilt against UCLA, where she played 82 of 90 minutes. She tallied 1,629 minutes of action for the Wahine.
Freshman midfielder Kelci Sumida was named to the All-Conference Honorable Mention list. Sumida arrived in Manoa a proven scorer, and her skill translated to the next level almost immediately. She finished second on the team with 5 goals, but more importantly, she led the team with three game-winning goals.
Sumida and Ammendolia were both named to the conference All-Freshman team.
The Rainbow Wahine open postseason play against top seeded Cal State Fullerton at Titan Stadium on Nov. 7 at 5:30 p.m. HST.