HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Rainbow Wahine soccer team's schedule for the upcoming season is set, and it presents some tough challenges for head coach Michele Nagamine and her squad.
"I'm very happy with the challenging schedule we have been able to put together for 2018," said head coach Michele Nagamine in a statement. "Opening with a powerhouse like Texas A&M will be an excellent opportunity for our young team to experience a quality side that is always one of the top teams in the country. With regard to our road games, it's nice that we get to return to teams like Saint Mary's, University of the Pacific, Nevada, and University of San Francisco."
To kick off the regular season, the Wahine will play 11-straight non-conference opponents, including six home games at the Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium.
"Playing a challenging non-conference slate will help us to prepare for the Big West Conference, which is always a competitive conference in women's soccer," Nagamine said. "We endured some unfortunate injuries to key players right before conference play started last year, so we are eager to show how much we've improved. We'll be paying especially close attention to monitoring our players' energy systems and how we recover after games and travel, to make sure our bodies last through the gauntlet of Big West play."
The 'Bows will enter the 2018 season with a young and talented roster, led by senior midfielder Raisa Strom-Okimoto.
Strom-Okimoto finished third in the Big West last season with shots on goal (59) while scoring three goals and two assists.
On defense, junior Alexis Mata returns and will look to build off last year's breakout campaign.
Mata led the conference with 96 saves, which ranked third all-time in Wahine history.
Texas A&M will be the first opponent of the season for the Wahine on Friday, August 17th followed by a matchup against Bowling Green on Sunday, June 19th.
From August 30th to September 16th, Hawaii will hit the road with stops at Saint Mary's and Pacific before a showdown against current NCAA Division II powerhouse UC San Diego on Friday, September 7th.