TUKWILA – One untimely bounce proved to be the difference between a historic championship season and just a historic remarkable season for the Peninsula College women’s soccer team.
In a repeat of the 2016 Northwest Athletic Conference women’s soccer championship, Highline and Peninsula battled through a scoreless 90 minutes Sunday at a rainy Starfire Sports field – and once again, the only goal of the match came in overtime. This year, however, it was the Thunderbirds who produced the goal and hoisted the NWAC trophy.
“It’s such a razor thin difference between the celebration and the hardware, and the sorrow,” Pirate head coach Kanyon Anderson said after the match.
His team had to settle for second place with just one heartbreaking loss on its’ record, but it was still a historic run for the Pirates. Peninsula had won a nation-leading 38 straight games, dating back to early 2016, and this year set the NWAC scoring record for women’s soccer with 142 goals, smashing the 129 that Walla Walla tallied in 2007.
Peninsula climbed to No. 4 in the national rankings, equaling the highest such mark in the College’s history – in any sport.
The Pirates finished with a 20-1-0 record, just missing a chance to become the first unbeaten team in Peninsula’s storied eight-year soccer history – and also just missing a chance to become the winningest women’s soccer program in NWAC history. No team has won four NWAC titles – and that is a chapter coach Anderson and his Pirates still have ahead of them to write.
The Pirates won NWAC trophies in 2016 when they went 19-1-1, in 2013 when they were 20-2-0, and in 2012 when they finished 22-1-1.
It was also a record-breaking year for two individual players. Sophomore Sydney Warren, who on Sunday was named the 2017 NWAC Player of the Year and previously awarded North Region MVP, finished with 31 goals, a single season record, and NWAC All-Star teammate Jordyn Dicintio broke Peninsula’s single season and career assist record with 28.
In Sunday’s thrilling final, a big crowd turned out to cheer on both teams under the roof at Starfire Stadium – and they saw some outstanding soccer.
There were momentum shifts throughout the match, and each team had point-blank scoring opportunities denied by outstanding defensive efforts.
Peninsula outshot Highline 8-7 on the night, but both keepers, Peninsula’s Akari Hoshino and Highline’s Jocelyn Hanrath, came up big when the heat was on.
The fouls were also pretty even, as the T-birds were whistled for 12 and the Pirates 11.
Two scoreless halves sent the match into overtime, and in the first golden goal OT period, Highline worked the ball down to the Peninsula end, a throw-in found its way into the box, bouncing into an open space, and it was almost like slow motion for Pirate fans when Highline’s Jewel Boland pounced on the ball and blasted it past a diving Hoshino to suddenly end the match. Bella Keane was credited with the assist.
It was the first NWAC championship for the T-birds, who play their home games at Starfire.
The Pirates will graduate 11 sophomores, but return a very talented group of 14 players, including freshmen and red-shirt sophomores.