The University of Hawaii at Hilo wasn’t looking for a cupcake in its season opener. Director of soccer Lance Thompson set up the schedule as a challenge by design.
That’s perhaps one reason why Thompson found it easy to stay upbeat Thursday night after a 2-0 loss to Cal State Los Angeles at the campus baseball field.
“We were up against a top-10 regional team,” Thompson said a university release. “We played L.A. straight up. We didn’t sit back and tried to go at them. That’s why I’m positive of where we are right now.
“It was a great learning moment for us tonight. It showed how we’ve got to compete for 90 minutes and pay attention to the little details.”
The defeat could carry postseason implications down the line.
The Golden Hawks, a California College Athletic Association contender looking to compile their sixth consecutive winning season, scored against both Vulcan goalkeepers and only allowed UHH to take three shots.
Both of the match’s goals came on restarts.
In the 20th minute, Amalia Arvidsson converted on a penalty kick. Just more than 10 minutes into the second half, Jackeline Lopes scored off Justine Telles’ corner kick.
Cal State Los Angeles goalkeeper Yi Du’s only save came off a shot by Lauren Grace-Finley. The Kealakehe graduate took two shots, while leading returning scorer Kristine Pasek had the other.
Vulcans sophomore goalkeeper Jenna Hufford played the first 54-plus minutes and made three saves before giving way to Kayla Clarke, who stopped four shots.
In their first season under Thompson, UHH finished 10-4-2 and were in the running for a berth at the West Regional until the final match of the regular season.
Thompson said he made the Vulcans’ 2014 nonconference schedule “very competitive,” partly because he wanted UHH to play the NCAA-maximum 18 matches, and also with any eye on strength of schedule, a key factor in the regional rankings.
He now takes his teams to Canada. The men open their season against Sonoma State (Calif.) on Sunday, and the women follow against Simon Fraser. Both Vulcans squads play Simon Fraser on Tuesday.
Cal State Los Angeles stays in Hilo and faces BYU-Hawaii at 3 p.m. Saturday.