By BILL O’REAR
Tribune-Herald sports editor
The University of Hawaii at Hilo women’s soccer team erupted for three goals in the second half to beat Western Oregon University 3-1 in a preseason match Monday afternoon.
The NCAA Division II contest was played at the Waipio Peninsula Soccer Complex on Oahu.
It was the Vulcans’ first win of the young season and Unity Beddingfield’s first victory as the team’s new head coach.
“I’m proud of our girls,” Beddingfield said. “We struggled a little bit in the first half and Western Oregon got a couple of lucky breaks. But at halftime we changed our formation and the girls came out hungry in the second half. They played more relaxed and we attacked a lot more on offense.”
The second-half strategy paid off as Lindsey Walter (24:19, header), Brianna Lopiccolo (28:22, corner kick) and Kristine Pasek (35:09, header) each scored a goal to fuel the UHH attack. Lopiccolo, a 5-foot-6 sophomore forward from San Jose, Calif., also had an assist on Pasek’s header and Lopiccolo’s corner kick curled into the top left corner of the goal for an impressive shot.
On the defensive side, the Vulcans (1-1) marked the Wolves’ top scorers and teamed with goalie Helen Schrock to shutout the Pacific Northwest squad.
Breegan Saller, a 5-6 sophomore from Long Bech, Calif., played the first half in the net for the Vulcans, giving up a goal to Nikki McCall on a cross from Makana Pundyke at the 40:39 mark. But Saller held the Wolves scoreless the rest of the half, recording four saves. Schrock, a 5-8 senior from Okinawa, Japan, took over in the final half and had a save while UHH’s aggressive defense thwarted WOU’s offense.
Wolves goalie Kelsey Lindsey went the full 90 minutes. She allowed all three goals and registered two saves.
WOU (1-1) outshot UHH on goal 10-8 for the match, but the Wolves held a 7-2 advantage in the first half before the Vulcans took charge after the intermission. Beddingfield’s squad held a 6-3 advantage in the second half and three of those shots went for scores.
“It was a really good team effort,” Beddingfield said. “All of the girls’ efforts and hard work paid off. Now, we’re preparing for our next game but still remembering what we did right today and carrying it into the Chaminade game.”
The Vulcans fly back to Oahu on Saturday and battle Pacific West Conference rival Chaminade University.
UHH opened its season on Sunday, falling to D-I Drexel University 4-0 at the Waipio Soccer Complex. The Dragons (4-1-1) entered the preseason match with five games under their belt. Drexel build a 4-0 halftime lead before the teams battled on even terms the final half.