OREM -- The Utah Valley University soccer team hits the road for the first time in 2012 when it travels to Hawai'i for the OHANA Hotels & Suites No Ka Oi, hosted by the University of Hawai'i. Game one against Sacred Heart begins at 11 p.m. MT (7 p.m. HT) on Wednesday, followed by a Sunday meeting against Hawai'i that begins at 9 p.m. MT (4 p.m. HT).
All matches will be played at UH's Waipi'o Peninsula Soccer Stadium. SHU and UH square off Friday night.
"This trip is all about business," UVU head soccer coach Brent Anderson said. "It's easy to get out to Hawai'i and get out on the beach and lose focus. But we know we have a pair of matches with two real quality teams and we can't afford to treat this trip with anything other than a businesslike mentality."
The Wolverines (0-1-0) opened the season last Friday when it dropped a 2-1 decision to UTEP in the waning seconds. Trailing 1-0 heading into halftime, Natalie Baker scored in the 53rd minute to tie the match. The game seemed destined for overtime after goalkeeper Jessica Duffin kept out a flurry of second half shots from the Miners, but UTEP finally broke through with just 42 seconds left to steal the win.
Wednesday's match stands as the season opener for Sacred Heart and the first ever meeting between the Wolverines and Pioneers. SHU finished fourth in the Northeastern Conference last season, making an appearance in the NEC tournament for the first time since 2007.
Selected to finish fourth in the NEC in 2012, the Pioneers return two All-Conference selections and two All-Rookie team performers from a year ago. Senior Jen Mulvey, a First Team selection in 2011, is the Pioneers' top returning goal scorer. The midfielder tallied five last season. SHU also returns Second Team selection at defender Alyssa Brandofino and midfielders Jillian Pincinich and Kristin Verrette who each earned a spot on the All-Rookie team.
Following Wednesday's game, the Wolverines will have three days to prepare for the invitational's host, the University of Hawai'i. UH is 0-2-0 as it enters its first season in the Big West following a fourth place finish in the WAC last year.
The Rainbow Wahine opened the season with a couple games in Nevada last weekend. UH fell 2-0 to the University of Nevada on Friday before claiming a wild 5-4 victory over UNLV on Sunday. Five different players scored for the Rainbow Wahine in the win.
UH returns Skye Shimabukuro, a 2011 Second Team All-WAC performer. Shimabukuro scored three goals last season, two of which were game-winners. Senior goalkeeper Kanani Taaca is a three-year starter in goal and played every minute for UH in 2011.
Utah Valley is 0-1-0 all-time against Hawai'i, losing 1-0 in Orem in 2005.
Upon its return, UVU will have a week to prepare its next match, a home contest against instate rival Utah State. The game, the first of four against instate schools, kicks off Sunday, Sept. 2, at 1 p.m. at Clyde Field.
Kellen Hiser is sports information assistant at Utah Valley University. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.