Soccer: UHH women beat Biola 2-0, run win streak to six

  • Kelsey Walling/Tribune-Herald UH-Hilo forward Nanea Wall attempts to steal the ball from Concordia Irvine midfielder Brianna Guerra during a match at home on Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021.

  • Viviana Poli

On a sublime early afternoon for soccer, UH-Hilo’s women’s soccer team put forth a performance worthy off the backdrop.

The beautiful game has never been played quite like this at UHH.

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“The scores don’t lie,” junior goalkeeper Viviana Poli said. “The ball never lies.”

The Vulcans beat Biola 2-0 on Thursday at their campus baseball field to claim their sixth consecutive victory, and it might be time to consider whether this is the best product the program has put on the field since its inception in 2006.

That still remains to be seen, but the recipe for success so far, sophomore Nanea Wall said, is simple.

“We all have a common goal,” Wall said. “Score. Win.”

At the very least, coach Gene Okamura said these Vulcans (9-3, 6-1 PacWest) are the best group he’s seen since he joined on as an assistant in 2013.

“I think personnel-wise, this is the best quality overall,” Okamura said. “Best overall quality and ideas and concept and execution.”

With three regular-season matches remaining, the Vulcans are a win away from matching 10-win teams in 2013, when Okamura was an assistant, and 2018, when he was head coach.

Okamura might be fielding his most complete team, but he was, at best, the third-happiest Vulcan to leave the pitch.

Wall increased a 1-0 lead when she scored her third goal of the season in the 56th minute after playing “a perfect ball” from Alyssa Padron.

“It was beautiful,” Wall said. “I keep replaying it in my head. I’m still buzzing.”

On a breakaway in the seventh minute, Daelenn Tokunaga netted her 11th goal, and the junior striker could soon provide a link to the 2008 team that holds the program-record for victories with 13 – though that club needed 20 matches to get there. Tokunaga, who has more than twice as many goals as anyone else in the conference, is three goals shy of tying the UHH single-season record – Adele Litro and Megan Pachecano each tallied 14 goals in 19 matches in 2008.

“It’s so nice to have her,” Wall said. “Just her ability to bring us all together. She’s been carrying us these past couple of games.”

After its second win in three days, UHH gets time off to prepare for what is shaping up as a battle for first place against undefeated Point Loma (9-0-1, 5-0), which also rides a six-match winning streak into Friday’s contest at Hawaii Pacific.

As big as Wednesday’s home match will be, it will be hard for Poli to get more pumped up than she was to face the Biola (5-7-1, 3-3). She started at goalkeeper at the school in her freshman season in 2018.

“Today meant a lot for me, it was very personal to me,” said Poli, a native of Covina, Calif.

The Eagles were outshot 12-4, and Poli actually wouldn’t have minded being busier. She made three saves in her fourth shutout, perhaps her best coming when dove to her left to deflect a shot by Leah Kakigi with about 10 minutes remaining.

“I was ready for anything,” she said. “I wouldn’t have minded more action, but I’m proud of my team, and my defense has been rock solid have been rock solid.”

Her exit from Biola was an unpleasant experience, but Thursday’s match, like the weather, was sublime.

“I left on bad terms, but we’re on good terms now,” she said. “This was really personal for me. They didn’t accept me. I’m bisexual, and they weren’t OK with that. I kind of suffered there.

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“Being here and having everyone wear the rainbow ribbons was really meaningful for me.”

In the men’s match Biola beat the Vuls 2-0, dropping UHH to 4-6-1 (2-3 PacWest).