In a perfect world, Sunshine Fontes would’ve played in front of family and friends in two of her first college soccer games with national powerhouse UCLA last week.
Alas, that was not to be, as the Wahiawa native is still recovering from a knee injury she suffered during OIA tournament play as a Pearl City senior earlier this year.
But Fontes, a two-time Star-Advertiser player of the year, was at Waipio Soccer Stadium to cheer on her fifth-ranked Bruins teammates in two matches of the Rainbow Wahine Shootout, a 2-2 draw with Pepperdine on Thursday and a 4-0 rout of host Hawaii on Sunday.
UCLA coach Amanda Cromwell raved about her potential impact for the program as UCLA and UH cooled off. Fontes was a former verbal commit to play for UH.
“Oh, she’s going to be key,” Cromwell said. “Goal scorer, just a handful to deal with. I think there’s some games where we’ve lacked a bit of, like a bite in our flank forwards, a 9, someone to be a bulldog like she can be, and put the ball away.”
That’s been proven at every level she’s played at so far.
Fontes is the U.S. U-17 national team’s all-time leader in goals scored with 24. Twice, she had a four-goal game in 2018, against Argentina and Venezuela. She had five goals at the CONCACAF U-17 championships.
It’s possible UCLA could return before Fontes’ college career is over, especially if Fontes redshirts this year and plays four more. The Bruins have made past trips out to Hawaii in 1998, 2002 and 2014, and Cromwell said she enjoys bringing her teams out here.
“We love coming to Hawaii. Oahu’s great. We enjoy getting out in water and surf a little bit,” said Cromwell, who coached UCLA to its first national championship in 2013, her first year as coach. “In the past we’ve done hikes and stuff like that. A lot of the players’ families came and had a little vacation. We do have some ties to Hawaii with some alumnae and their parents, uncles and stuff like that. So we went to the North Shore and that kind of thing.”
A WPSS-record crowd of more than 4,000 showed up the previous time the Bruins came out here, beating UH 6-0 as the No. 1-ranked team and defending national champion. Kamehameha alumna Caprice Dydasco, a four-year UCLA starter, was a senior on that team.
The Bruins are used to making deep runs in the NCAA College Cup. They have made it to at least the third round in each of the last three years, and lost in the championship in 2017.
UCLA (6-1-1) begins Pac-12 play next.
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We caught up with Sunshine Fontes today at the Hawaii vs UCLA game. Although she didn't play and is recovering from injury it was good to catch up with the U17 National Team all-time goal leader. #guavapress is hoping to see amazing things from this future star! @sunshinefontes @uclawsoccer