Vulcans women’s soccer heads to Seattle to face Sonoma St. in the NCAA D-II tournament

Vulcans women’s soccer heads to Seattle to face Sonoma St. in the NCAA D-II tournament

There were mixed emotions, coach Gene Okamura said, last week when UH-Hilo’s women’s soccer team learned its NCAA D-II tournament-clinching win was going to come via forfeit.

The team was stoked to clinch the program’s first trip to the postseason, but all things being equal, the Vulcans would have preferred to have beaten Chaminade on the field on their senior day.

“A lot of players were looking forward to playing in front of their families,” Okamura said.

The Silverswords’ forfeiture – “because of their inability to field complete teams due to suspensions and injuries,” a UHH release said – also cost junior striker Daelenn Tokunaga a chance at the school’s single-season goal record. Tokunaga’s scored 13 goals is one off the mark shared by Adele Litro and Megan Pachecano.

“We have more matches coming up, though,” Okamura said. “She can tie and break the school record (in Seattle).”

The trail-blazing Vulcans drew the fifth seed in the West Region on Monday as the co-champs of the Pacific West Conference, and they are headed to the Pacific Northwest to play Sonoma State at 11 a.m. Thursday in the first round . The fourth-seeded Seawolves (14-5) won the regular season championship in the California Collegiate Athletic Association before falling to Cal State East Bay in the conference tournament championship.

Okamura said he didn’t figure the Vuls would be seeded any higher than fifth. Fellow PacWest champ Point Loma drew the third seed and will face No. 6 East Bay in the first round.

The Vuls will leave for the Pacific Northwest on Tuesday.

“I know (Sonoma) is a quality side,” Okamura said. “Looking at the results against quality opponents, they fared well.”

In Saturday’s second round, yhe winner faces top seed Seattle Pacific (17-1-1), the Great Northwest Athletic Conference regular season and conference tournament champion. Also going to Seattle is Western Washington (14-4-3). The second seed awaits either East Bay or Point Loma on Saturday. The second round winners advance to a regional final.

The Vulcans’ match against Sonoma could down to rust vs. rest.

Because of a break due to COVID-19 protocols, UHH has played only once since beating Point Loma on Oct. 27, and Okamura doesn’t deny that match fitness could be an issue. Or maybe Sonoma is beat up having played five times since Oct. 31.

“The good news is we are pretty healthy,” he said.

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