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Senior class set the stage

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Hawaii’s soccer seniors want to keep this ride going just a little bit longer.

The Rainbow Wahine need a win over UC Davis on Friday’s senior night to stay in the hunt for a Big West tournament berth. Including the 7 p.m. home finale at Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium, UH has three matches remaining in conference play and must win out in order to have a chance at vaulting from last place (6-9, 1-4 BWC) into the top four and qualifying for the tourney.

Win, lose, or draw Friday, UH will honor its six outgoing players, four of whom came into the program at the same time as coach Michele Nagamine four years ago.

They are Krystal Pascua, Ashley Haruki, Hayden Gibson, Alexis Colacchio, Korinne Estrada and Olivia Stanford. The first four are the team’s co-captains.

"Our class has been here from freshmen with Coach Bud ’til now," said Pascua, an instrumental four-year attacker out of ‘Iolani, who will leave UH at or near the career top 10 in points (35), assists (11) and goals (12). "It’s going to be very emotional, but we’re going to try to keep our emotions in check and get business done."

Nagamine credited the outgoing class (which includes a fourth-year junior in Stanford) with weathering adversity and setbacks along the way to what they still hope is a fulfillment of a key goal this season — a first BWC tournament appearance for the program.

"This to me, is the foundation of the team," Nagamine said. "Their class coming in, as freshmen, my first year here. We’ve really kind of rebuilt the program together."

Nagamine acknowledged the team’s chances are "hanging by a thread" mathematically after UH dropped its past three matches, but that wasn’t reflected in the team’s demeanor at practices this week. After all, UH is 5-0-2 in its last seven senior night matches.

"Like we’ve said all season, we still get chance," said Haruki, a four-year starter at midfield.

Haruki, a 5-foot-1 Hawaii Baptist Academy graduate, emerged as a technically sound presence over the past two seasons in particular, and has two goals and two assists in her career. She goes almost exclusively by "Muki" in the local soccer community.

"I think we’re going to go out and give it all we got," Haruki said. "The six of us, we invested a lot of time and effort into this season and program. It’ll be filled with a lot of emotions, but as long as we use those emotions to motivate us in the best way possible, I think then we’ll be OK."

Mainland players make up the rest of the class. Each of those four spoke about latching onto the islands as a second home during their time at UH.

Gibson, a Sedalia, Colo., native who spent the first two years of her career at Louisiana-Lafayette, became a starter in the UH midfield upon her arrival in 2013. She scored her first UH goal at Eastern Washington this season.

"I think this experience has helped me grow to (an) extent that I didn’t think it would when I transferred here," Gibson said.

Colacchio, the speedy winger out of Aliso Viejo, Calif., was a part-time starter for UH through her four-year career. She has three goals and two assists over that span, including the Wahine’s first goal of the 2014 season, vs. Texas. She was the first player to make the leap of faith to the islands under Nagamine and stick it out for the duration.

"I bonded with the girls really quickly, which helped the transition immediately," Colacchio said.

Estrada, a two-year player out of Foothill (Calif.) College, started two matches on defense this season and appeared in six in her Wahine career.

"They all thought I was from here when I got here. Not the team, but like everybody else," said Estrada, a Northern California native.

Stanford, a team favorite out of Henderson, Colo., pushed others to get better in practices for four years. She’s appeared in six career matches. Her favorite memory was when she scored in the UH alumnae game this season, her first career goal (though it didn’t officially count).

Fittingly, her wish to end her career was to benefit those around her.

"Honestly, just make sure my teammates are set for next year," Stanford said.

>> Friday, 7 p.m., at Waipio Peninsula Soccer Stadium
>> UC Davis (4-10-3, 1-3-2 BWC) at Hawaii (6-9, 1-4)
>> TV/Radio: None.
>> Video: Seniors talk about their experience. Go to

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