The University of Hawaii women’s soccer team has already secured a spot in the Big West Conference Tournament, marking only the second time they’ve achieved this in 11 years. The team is now vying for home-field advantage during their final road trip of the regular season.

Coming off a heartbreaking 2-1 Senior Day loss to Cal Poly this past weekend, the Rainbow Wahine are setting their sights on the upcoming face-off with rival Long Beach State on Thursday.

Scenarios for the team suggest a chance to play a quarterfinal match in Hawaii. Specifically, a win for UH combined with a UC-Irvine loss or tie against UC Davis would grant Hawaii the number 4 seed, ensuring a home playoff match against the 5-seed on Sunday.

Hawaii’s head coach, Michele Nagamine, shared her pride in the team’s accomplishments. “The mere fact that we’re in the tournament just meant so much to us because it’s been a long road back from the pandemic. To do it with this group of women, and witness the amount of love and aloha they have for each other, is heartwarming,” Nagamine remarked. She also highlighted the outpour of fan support in their recent games, saying, “We had thousands of fans out there in our last two games, and it was just really incredible to see how excited they were.”

Commenting on the impact the players have on young fans, she added, “I don’t even know how long it took the players to sign autographs after the game because they’re inspiring the next generation of kids. Seeing all the fans so excited about celebrating and supporting them really does build a lot of confidence for our team. We’re extremely grateful for all the support people have shown to us this season, and we want to ensure we continue to make them proud.”

To keep their hopes alive for the 4-seed, the Rainbow Wahine must clinch a win against Long Beach State. Otherwise, they’ll settle for the 5-seed, which will place them on the road for a playoff match on Sunday against an opponent yet to be determined.

The Rainbows and The Beach will kick off at 4 p.m. HST on Thursday and will be available for streaming on ESPN+.