When the University of Hawaii at Hilo and Grand Canyon kicked off their men’s soccer match Wednesday night in Phoenix, the thermometer read 99 degrees.
The No. 17 Antelopes’ play was just as scorching.
Brandon Hansen found the net twice as Grand Canyon scored four first-half goals and cruised to a 6-3 victory over the Vulcans.
UH-Hilo (0-6-1, 0-5-1 Pacific West Conference) turned it on late to net a season-high in goals. With the Vulcans trailing 6-0, juniors Vincent Muscarella and Phillip Sakaba each scored for the first time this season.
The Vulcans were coming off a tough 1-0 double-overtime loss at Dixie State on Monday, but the second stop of a five-match mainland road trip was a much different story. Swarming Grand Canyon (8-2, 5-1 PacWest) was dominant in the first half, holding a 22-0 shots advantage in its most prolific opening 45 minutes of soccer since it scored six goals in Hilo last season.
“It was tough for us getting back after the Dixie State match, and we didn’t have our legs,” UH-Hilo coach Ziggy Korytoski said.
The Antelopes’ six goals Wednesday were a season best. The Vulcans held their own until Hansen scored in the 21st minute from the center of the box. By the time the junior midfielder tallied his team-leading sixth goal in the 33rd minute, the Vulcans were trailing 4-0.
Brian Green scored in each half and assisted on Alex Connally’s goal, and Adam Finnefrock also scored. Stipe Darko-Medic added three assists and Saeed Robinson had two as Grand Canyon won its fourth straight to move to the top of the PacWest standings with a league-best 15 points.
UH-Hilo, rebuilding under first-year coach Korytoski, sits at the bottom of the 14-team league, but it did get a late offensive surge after outshooting the Antelopes 10-6 in the second half. In the final 16 minutes, the Vulcans scored just one fewer goal than they had in their first six-plus matches.
Freshman Zachary Solarte, who leads the team with three points, assisted on Muscarella’s goal in the 75th minute, and after UH-Hilo got an own goal, Sakaba closed the scoring in the final minute. Muscarella led the team with five shots.
“We had more of a response in the second half and made a good show of it in the last 30 minutes,” Korytoski said, “but it was too little, too late.”
Junior goalkeeper Yonha Adrabi allowed four goals and was credited with eight saves. In the second half, senior Luis Romero stopped one shot.
• Grand Canyon 1, UH-Hilo 0: Jessica Fitzgerald scored just before halftime in Phoenix as the Vulcans lost their fourth straight match.
The Vulcans (3-6, 1-5 PacWest) were called for a foul with 44 seconds left in the first half, and the Antelopes (4-4-2, 3-1-2) took advantage when Fitzgerald found the back of the net off a free kick by Martine Gjennestad for the sophomore forward’s first goal of the season.
Freshman Teisha Nacis was credited with the only shot on goal for UH-Hilo, which was outshot 19-7, including 13-2 in the second half. Sophomore Breegan Saller played the first half in goal for the Vulcans and made three saves, while senior Helen Schrock stopped four shots in the second half.
The Antelopes have won three of four to move into a tie for third in the PacWest.
During its losing streak, the Vulcans have managed just one goal.
The UH-Hilo soccer teams play at Cal Baptist University on Saturday in Riverside, Calif.