The hot start for the University of Hawaii at Hilo women’s soccer team has yielded a No. 14 ranking for the Vulcans.
After a 3-1 win over Dominican University of California in the team’s Pacific West Conference opener in Hilo, the team is now 6-0-1 overall.
All the latest sports news from Hawaii’s sports station
Under head coach Gene Okamura, who has helmed the Vulcans since 2016 and is both a UHH alum and Hilo native, passion for the program is contagious.
“Yeah, I think it’s something that we need to adapt to and something that we’re always playing underdog for the last however many years and now everyone is coming in trying to do the same thing that we’ve been doing so we need to figure out how we can perform to the highest level every single day in training and in matches,” Okamura told KHON2 sports reporter Alan Hoshida.
As a team, there is much discussion about shining a positive light on the community that they represent, seeing as though that the D-II program serves as one of the highest profile athletic teams on the island.
“I think it gives us a lot of pride to be representing Hilo specifically because we’re not one of the bigger teams and a lot of teams haven’t heard of us or they don’t know about us so, yeah, it brings us a lot of pride to our school and to the community,” said senior defender Jodi Lillie, a Mililani alum.
“We really are just a dot in the pacific,” said Filippa Graneld, a junior forward from Sweden. “I love representing this community and I love that the community supports us in the way that they do and it’s just really cool every time we go downtown in our Hilo shirts, there’s always people recognizing us and wishing us the best of luck in our games so I’m really happy to be part of a community that looks out for us and cares so much about the soccer program.”
Next up for the Vulcans is a home match against Academy of Art on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. before traveling to Oahu for matches against Hawaii Pacific and Chaminade next week.