A new era in Hawaiian soccer begins this fall when four NCAA Division II schools launch men's and women's programs.
It's rare to find a school adding men's soccer these days, but
that's what happened at BYU-Hawaii, Chaminade, Hawaii Pacific and Hawaii-Hilo, which added men's and women's soccer as part of their expansion of their athletic programs to comply with the NCAA's
granting of full conference status to the Pac West Conference. In addition to the four Hawaii schools, the conference includes Grand Canyon of Arizona and Notre Dame de Namur of Belmont, Calif.
The men's teams compete this weekend in the Hawaii Challenge Cup Tournament at the Waipio Soccer Complex on Oahu. Hawaii-Hilo plays its first game ever Friday when it faces Hawaii Pacific. The
Sea Warriors, BYU-Hawaii and Chaminade all opened their seasons over Labor Day weekend. After playing at the club level the past four years, Hawaii Pacific fell to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical of
Arizona, 1-0, on the HPU windward Hawaii Loa Campus. Chaminade, coached by long-time Hawaii soccer coach Bob Barry
, lost its first game when the Swords
fell to Embry-Riddle, 2-0. BYU-Hawaii lost to Embry-Riddle, 3-2, after blowing a 2-1 lead midway through the second half.
The decision to add soccer was made in March, so the schools
scrambled to form staffs and recruit players. "I think it's obvious that we were put together kind of late," admitted Hawaii-Hilo men's coach Paul Regrutto
"It's just a mixed bag of guys with no recruiting of a particular type of player. We're just trying to get the best possible player that we could."
On the women's side, Hawaii-Hilo, Hawaii
Pacific and BYU-Hawaii all opened with losses last weekend against visiting Dixie State University, a former JC powerhouse from Utah in its first year of NCAA Division II compliance. UHH suffered the
worst defeat, losing, 5-0, in a game played on the island of Oahu. "I told our girls we flew over there and got a free clinic," said UHH women's coach Travis
said. "You saw what you want to look like ... now we go home and train."
The Hawaii teams will make one or two trips to the West Coast this fall. The Chaminade men have
the most brutal schedule, playing four games in four days in California and Arizona.
Men's and women's coaches agree the new programs will be a boon to Hawaii soccer, which features
strong youth programs. Clarke told
the Hawaii Advertiser
30-40 graduating seniors from Hawaii have the potential to play at D1 or D2 programs.