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Game of the Week
Kalani Takase | ScoringLiveFebruary 9, 2018, 12:18am
Soon-to-be Oregon State teammates Ilihia Keawekane and Gabrielle Hackbarth were all smiles Wednesday morning after signing their National Letters of Intent at the Sheraton Waikiki.
About 36 hours later, the pair were on opposing sides of the pitch — Keawekane for Kamehameha-Maui and Hackbarth for Mililani — in a Division I quarterfinal of The Queen's Medical Center/HHSAA Girls Soccer State Championships.
Hackbarth and the second-seeded Trojans pulled away with a 6-1 win over Keawekane and the Warriors, but it did little to diminish their friendship.
Minutes after the completion of the game, Hackbarth leapt into the arms of Keawekane — her teammate with the Leahi Soccer Club — in bittersweet celebration.
Mililani's Gabrielle Hackbarth and KS-Maui's Ilihia Keawekane smile for a photo after their Thursday quarterfinal match.
"It was pure happiness. I miss playing on the field with her. It's been a long time," Hackbarth said. "I know we were playing on opposing teams, but we get this type of energy when we play on the same field — I don't know how to explain that — but it's like a hype and a lot of adrenaline."
With Hackbarth typically playing a defensive role for Mililani and Keawekane an offensive one for KS-Maui, the duo hoped to rub elbows during the game, but the former was aligned at outside-mid Thursday. They had to settle for their postgame hug instead.
"She would have been a really good match and I just know that we're going to make each other better, because I know that she's great competition for me and playing against my teammate, I kind of, like, I don't know, hold back a little bit, so I just wanted to go against her and see that, you know, nothing can interfere with my game. ‘Even though you're my teammate on a different team and you're going to be my future teammate, I'm still going to take you head-on one-hundred percent no matter who you are,' " Keawekane said.
KS-Maui's Ilihia Keawekane works the ball against Mililani in a quarterfinal match Thursday afternoon.
Earlier in the week, Hackbarth reached out to Keawekane before the Warriors' first-round game against Waipahu Monday.
"I got a text message from her early in the morning saying good luck and I literally played that game for her because I really wanted to play against her and I wanted to be there for her," Keawekane said.
Hackbarth recalled that she could hardly contain her excitement for both Thursday's matchup, as well as the future.
"When I got the text message that she's in our bracket, I texted her right away and I was like, ‘Yes!' I'm super excited to play her and I wanted her to win really bad. I'm very excited for our future and I'm really glad that I have someone from home coming with me (to Oregon State)," Hackbarth said.
Mililani's Gabrielle Hackbarth smiles at a fan before the start of the second half of a quarterfinal match against KS-Maui.
Keawekane, who chose Oregon State over Washington State and Utah State, said she grew closer to Hackbarth while mulling college options.
"The recruiting process brought us closer. We weren't so close before, but because we got recruited together our bond has been tight," Keawekane said. "I'm actually very happy that she's coming up with me. We're practically the same person, so college is going to be much more memorable with her."
Keawekane noted a special connection with Hackbarth, which certainly bodes well for the Beavers next season.
"Every time we play with each other, it feels like we've been playing with each other forever," Keawekane said. "I guess we just connect that way. We understand each other and we understand our weaknesses and we understand that we need to be there for each other. We haven't played with each other that much, but it's felt like we've played with each other forever.
KS-Maui's Ilihia Keawekane signs autographs for a handful of young fans.
Hackbarth, who signed with Oregon State over Nevada-Reno, shared in Keawekane's optimism in what the future holds.
"It's going to be really fun being able to play together again. I'm super stoked. I can't wait," Hackbarth said.
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