When UH-Hilo’s abbreviated soccer schedules were announced a few months ago, women’s coach Gene Okamura said one of his team captains had a two-word response: That’s it.
As it turns out, even getting in four games will take some work.
The Vulcans’ men’s and women’s openers against Hawaii Pacific have been postponed, UHH athletic director Pat Guillen confirmed Wednesday, because the Sharks couldn’t field enough players.
“They only have 11 players,” he said. “You can play with 11 players, but you need to sub out players, and it’s not the safest thing to do.”
The Vuls and Hawaii Pacific were to have opened the season Saturday in the Hilo area, though a location had not been announced prior to this week’s postponement. Guillen said he thought the soccer doubleheader would be made up in March.
The Vulcans’ men and women are scheduled to play on consecutive days on Oahu, Feb. 27 vs. Chaminade and Feb. 28 against HPU, and two weeks later the Silverswords visit Hilo. That game, as well as rescheduled home contests against the Sharks, likely will be played at Hilo Bayfront.
“We’ll probably be playing there, while following all DOH guidelines,” Guillen said.
Under current county guidelines, up to 50 people are allowed to gather for a soccer match.
UHH played its 2019 soccer matches at its campus baseball field, but Guillen said that venue wouldn’t be available for soccer this season because the baseball program has been sprucing it up with an eye on possibly hosting games there in the spring. The Vuls’ baseball normal home is Wong Stadium, a county facility.
“I look at this soccer season as a developmental season,” Guillen said. “We are not playing for a championship. They are glorified scrimmages.
“I wouldn’t want to use the baseball field for (soccer).”
UHH’s soccer season has been marked by cancellations, delays and postponements because of the pandemic, but men’s coach Paul Regrutto said he’s been impressed with his team’s workout intensity, dating back to the fall.
“I think they have been doing a really great job,” he said. “They are approaching it as if they want to get better and to put themselves in the position to be a great team.”
Whether they get in three games or four – or fewer – he expects his squad to approach the season with one eye on development and the other on winning.
“It has to be a little bit of both,” Regrutto said. “If you look at it just as development, you miss on the opportunity to work on a winning mentality and the team mantra.
“If you don’t play certain players and make it all about winning, you miss the opportunity to develop some guys.”
The outlook is busier for UHH athletics as whole.
Guillen said he expects schedules for baseball and softball to be announced as soon as the end of this week. A series between UHH and the University of Hawaii baseball teams isn’t official yet, but, “We will be playing (UH), likely a three -or four-game series at Manoa,” he said. “If this were a normal season, we’d play them (in Hilo) as well.”
As the men’s and women’s basketball teams prep for home games against Chaminade on Feb. 20-21, the UHH cross-country team hosts a meet Friday at Naniloa Golf Course, and Vulcans’ tennis programs begin their seasons Sunday at the Fairmount Orchid on the Kohala Coast.
According the PacWest’s release in November, seasons for baseball, softball and volleyball are scheduled to begin in March.
“It’s going to be exciting,” Guillen said. “I wish we could have fans at our games, but we are playing for each other and the community.”