Sophomore forward Kayla Ryan made the most of her first start in 2019-20 season as she netted two goals in the Big West Conference opener for the University of Hawai’i soccer team for a 2-1 overtime win against visiting CSUN.
“We’ve been telling the team before tonight that we’re 0-0 now,” said head coach Michele Nagamine. “Everything we’ve gone through these last few weeks has made us better, but it’s in the past. Tonight it felt like we turned the tide in our favor, and we want to ride this momentum.”
The Rainbow Wahine (3-6-1, 1-0) made history with the victory as they notched the program’s first-ever win in a Big West Conference opener. Previously, UH had lost seven straight before Thursday’s win over CSUN. The Matadors (6-4-1, 0-1) dropped their third consecutive match and will head to UC Riverside for a matchup on Oct. 6.
CSUN struck first right before the half in 38th minute as Cora Wilcot gathered a rebound off an acrobatic save by senior goalkeeper Alexis Mata at the top of the box. As the ball bounced in Wilcot’s favor, she tipped the ball over freshman defender Loren House for the score, making it a 1-0 contest.
As the second set of 45 minutes started to roll, Ryan took over. Sophomore midfielder Morgan Meza dropped an arching pass over the Matador backline, feeding Ryan for a tapper past the goalkeeper for her first-career goal in the 52nd minute. UH and CSUN battled the remaining 37 minutes, trying to break the 1-1 tie.
The 89th minute provided a little bit of drama as junior Izzy Deutsch laced a corner kick into the box. Ryan and her patented pink hair flew through the scrum, pegging the ball off the crossbar in the final seconds before the end of regulation.
It didn’t take long for UH to strike as a failed attempt by CSUN turned into an opportunity for UH. After a clear out by the UH defense senior forward Kayla Watanabe pulled in a long pass, taking on two Matador defenders. Watanabe spun around and found Ryan coming in to even the odds, feeding her with a tapper to the right-center point of the box. Ryan fired from 12 feet out, beating the keeper, claiming the victory for the ‘Bows.
The Matadors led the offensive numbers as they outshot UH 15-10 overall. The second half was the difference as UH racked up nine shots, including four on goal. Mata added to her conference-leading save total as she recorded six on the evening, giving her 56 on the year.
The Bows’ will return to conference action a week from today when they host UC Irvine on Oct. 10, the pitch is set for 7 p.m. HT and will air on Spectrum Sports.