Soccer: Vulcans return ‘home’ to battle Sharks

  • UHH photo UH-Hilo’s Janelle Schwartz plays a ball during the Vulcans’ season-opening road trip

Makeshift and temporary never looked so good.

UH-Hilo’s soccer programs return to their campus baseball field Saturday for their home openers against Hawaii Pacific after three seasons hosting at Kamehameha’s Paiea Stadium.

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An on-campus soccer complex is in works for 2020 or 2021, but for now the baseball field will do, women’s coach Gene Okamura said.

Whatever UHH gives up in amenities because of the move can be made up with the enhanced environment.

“My favorite times here as a coach came while playing (on campus),” Okamura said. “The atmosphere is awesome because the fans are right there. The fans are sitting 10 yards away instead of 50.”

The baseball stands are still a good distance from the soccer playing field, but under the old configuration fans could sit along the far sidelines and get snug and up-close to the action.

“You talk about a home field advantage,” Okamura said. “The fans can become a 12th man, basically.”

The Vulcans and Sharks will get to know each other well.

Saturday’s matches are nonconference, but the teams will meet in Pacific West Conference action Oct. 6 on Oahu.

The women’s match is at 12:30, with the Vulcans (1-2-1) coming off of a two-week break. Their six goals have come from six different players: Nanea Wall, Brianna Valencia, Brenna Rill, Christy Jensen, Annie Brejc and Camille Strazzo. Brende Yoshizumi and Crystal Sanchez have two assists apiece.

The Sharks (2-2-1) enter after a 2-2 draw against Chaminade on Thursday. Senior four-year starter Ebony Madrid leads the Sharks with three goals and three assists and the reigning PacWest player of the week has 12 career goals and eight assists.

“Hawaii Pacific will be a tough matchup,” Okamura said. “They have some solid preseason results and, of course, it is a rivalry match.”

In the 3 p.m. men’s match, UHH (0-3-0) will try to get a bad taste out of its mouth after losing 6-0 on Monday at Cal Poly Pomona.

Garret Arzberger has three goals for the Sharks and Luiz Garcia scored twice Thursday.

“I thought we played very well in our first two matches,” Vulcan coach Paul Regrutto said. “We played aggressive and took plenty of shots. We had 21 in the first match and 14 in the second, but we are just not converting on those opportunities yet. Against Cal Poly (Pomona), we played on our heels and just never got back into the way we need to play. Consistency is imperative for us to be successful. We are looking to get our identity back this weekend.”

So are the fans.

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Hawaii Pacific swept UHH last season, but the return to campus could help.

“The people at Kamehameha were great with us with a great facility,” Regrutto said. “But getting the student body back and maybe targeting people in Hilo and making it easier for them to attend, that should be pretty cool. Gene has told me the environment can be pretty electric.”

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