A lot of weight rested on the shoulders of Storm Kenui. That of just about her entire team, in fact.
The Rainbow Wahine soccer team dogpiled on the co-captain in jubilation after her double-overtime golden goal gave UH a 2-1 win over Sacramento State on Thursday night at the Waipio Soccer Complex.
“There was a lot of people. Me and Raisa (Strom-Okimoto) were at the very bottom,” Kenui said after the game. “This is why I have the ice on my shoulder.”
UH improved to 2-0-1, maintaining its best start since 2007. That team opened 5-0-1 and is the program’s only NCAA tournament team to date.
It was midway through the second overtime Thursday — officially in the books as the 104th minute — that Kenui was in the right place at the right time. After the ball deflected off the head of a Sacramento State defender, Kenui charged hard down the middle, took a quick-touch dribble then flicked the ball over the head of the Hornets goalkeeper from a few yards outside the box.
— Big West W-Soccer (@BigWestWSOC) August 26, 2016
“I saw the ball getting cleared out. And then all of a sudden I see it in the back of the net. I kind of closed my eyes when I shot it,” she said with a laugh. “I told everyone (that). Maybe I shouldn’t have said that, but yeah.”
It seemed for a while that it was destined to go into the books as another draw in the maximum 110 minutes. It was a grueling game, replete with physical fouls, questionable calls and two frustrated teams.
“It just felt like a really long game,” Kenui said.
UH coach Michele Nagamine called for a shift of personnel early in the second half. She subbed in freshman MyMy Baca at center back, which moved Kenui up from that position to midfield — her natural spot. It was a gutsy move; it was Baca’s first real action.
But it ultimately allowed an experienced player like Kenui to make a play when it mattered. It was her seventh career goal, and first since her sophomore season.
“I really wanted to see what she could do in the midfield. I needed a little bit of a presence,” Nagamine said. “She has a little bit of that kind of She-ra, Hulk presence where she’s got great size and she’s a leader and everybody kind of looks to her to set the pace for us. I told her we needed a presence in the midfield and I thought she did just that.”
UH overcame a missed penalty kick by Sonest Furtado in the early minutes and got on the board in the 50th on a header by Sarah Lau off a pass from Addie Steiner.
Sacramento State had come back in the 58th on a quick-trigger low blast from Caitlin Prothe (note: changed from Andrea Boehm in the UH live stats).
Then it was one long stalemate until nearly the very end. Both teams had several chances to go up. Nagamine acknowledged the Hornets (1-2) exposed her team several times and noted UH got “lucky” to escape some of those situations.
“Actually, I did (think we could still win it),” Nagamine said. “The team’s been very motivated and very focused. Just the whole vibe and the chemistry, it’s just really, really inspiring to me. I got a little heated tonight and probably wasn’t as focused as I could be, but I never lost faith in the fact that they could pull it out.”
UH continues play in the Outrigger Soccer Classic series at 7 p.m. Saturday against Idaho State (2-2). The Bengals outlasted BYU-Hawaii, 1-0, by converting a penalty kick in overtime Thursday.