UH-Hilo’s women’s soccer team didn’t reach the postseason, but its turnaround campaign didn’t go unnoticed.
What came Wednesday was more than just a consolation prize as the Vulcans broke a 10-year all-Pacific West Conference drought, putting three players on the first team in seniors Tiera Arakawa, Lucy Maino and freshman Jodi Lillie.
The Vulcans hadn’t had a player earn first-team recognition since Melissa Grant in 2008, and UHH’s seven selections among three teams were the most since the program started in 2006.
“This is a tremendous testimony to the season that the girls had,” coach Gene Okamura said in a school release.
The Vuls finished 10-4-1, equaling their best mark since 2013, with help from second-team picks Bailey Cahill and Jaimie Salas as well as third-team selections Carlie Reader and Maleni Avalos.
On the men’s side, Matt Wilkinson carried the banner for UHH as a third-teamer thanks to his 10 goals, which tied the single-season school mark,
Not surprisingly, Vulcans women’s defenders – Lillie, Maino and Avalos at fullbacks in front of Cahill at goalkeeper – were rewarded with four of seven nods.
“Our defense was one of the best in the conference, second statistically only to Point Loma,” Okamura said. “I think that the PacWest coaches had respect for that and honored us appropriately.”
Lillie, from Mililani, Oahu, was one of three conference freshman named to the first team, while Arakawa and Maino wrapped up their careers in stellar fashion.
Arakawa, a four-year starter from Maui, compiled three goals and four assists this season and leaves sixth on UH Hilo’s all-time points list with 27 (11 goals and five assists). Maino, a two-year starter after transferring from College of the Canyons and a native Papua New Guinea, excelled on set pieces, posting four goals and an assist from the backline.
Cahill has another year of eligibility remaining after giving up just nine goals in 16 matches. Her 0.60 goals against average just missed miss the top mark in school history.
Salas, Reader and Avalos are seniors.
“Our senior class deserves so much credit for helping to get the program headed into a championship direction,” Okamura said. “I am happy that five of them received the honors that they deserve by being selected to the All-PacWest team.”
Salas transferred from Arizona State two seasons ago and scored five of the Vuls 23 goals this season, tying with Arakawa with the team lead in points (10). Reader led the Vulcans in shots in each of the last two seasons after transferring from Chico State last year, registering three goals and two assists in 2018, while Avalos made the most of her only season as a starter. The 5-footer was on the short list of players that Okamura considered his most valuable this season.
Wilkinson was the first Vulcan named to men’s squad since Mike Reckmeyer was put on the third team in 2014.
A transfer from Santa Barbara City College, the England native was 5-for-5 on penalty kicks, collecting three game-winning goals. His 20 points were the second best in team history.
Azusa Pacific, which completed the conference season perfect, took five of the six individual awards, including player of the year Gabriel Costa (13 goals, 12 assists).
Women’s champ Point Loma women did it one better, sweeping all six honors. Julia Glaser, who scored nine game-winners among her league-best 13, was the player of the year.