Rayden Bala and the University of Hawaii at Hilo’s men’s soccer team sure finished with a bang.
Bala netted the program’s first hat trick Saturday night as the Vulcans routed Academy of Art 5-1 before 300 fans at UHH baseball field.
The Vulcans (5-8-2, 5-7-2 Pacific West Conference) finished the season on a hot stretch, going 4-1-1 in their last six matches to finish in the top half of the PacWest.
Goals by Ikaika Fuerte and Vincent Muscarella gave UHH a 2-0 lead, then Bala took over.
The Kealakehe graduate scored on a breakaway, and after the Urban Knights (4-13-1, 3-10-1) cut the lead to 3-1, Bala turned two Phillip Sakaba passes into a 5-1 lead.
Sakaba tallied three assists, and Aaron Sanchez — one of five Vulcans playing their final match — had one. Muscarella, Makua Lani graduate Gerald Walsh, Josiah Motosue and Luis Romero Romero were also honored on Senior Night.
Academy of Art women 2, UHH 1, OT: In a season full of tough losses, the Vulcans suffered one more to finish their year when Rea Laudat scored in overtime.
It was the fourth one-goal loss of the season for UHH (5-12, 3-11) — two of those were in overtime — and coach Unity Beddingfield felt the Vulcans were the victim of bad luck on the deciding play.
“We thought we were going to get an offsides call,” Beddingfield said. “We didn’t, and they took advantage.”
UHH came up with some late-game dramatics to force overtime.
Taylor Wright scored in the final minute of regulation off an assist from Lindsey Walter to tie it 1-1.
The match was scoreless until Hannah Emmett found the back of the net in the 82nd minute for the Urban Knights (7-11, 5-9), who held a 9-6 advantage in shots.
At the NCAA West Regional cross country meet on Oahu, the Vuls placed 25th. Nadia Ramirez led way again, finishing 142nd with a time of 26:02.
Jordan Bledsoe finished in 147th place with a time of 26:40, followed by Keri Fujiwara (158th, 27:53), Justina Wood (164th, 28:44) and Hillary Ramos (166th, 34:47).