The Peninsula men's soccer team matched its best finish in school history with a fourth-place finish at the NWAACC tournament in Tukwila Sunday afternoon.
Just like last season, the Pirates missed their first appearance in the championship game by a single goal, falling to Walla Walla 1-0 in double overtime on Nov. 22, then dropping a 1-0 game in regulation to Spokane the next day.
The losses ended Peninsula's 15-game unbeaten streak and hope for some redemption from last year's 0-2 mark at the final four, but it didn't happen.
Still, Peninsula coach Andrew Chapman was impressed with the Pirates' performance and growth in 2008.
"The start of the season was tough on us (starting 1-5-1) but the guys did all the right stuff at the end," Chapman said. "We were proud of the guys, how they handled themselves."
After taking the West division's third and final seed, the Pirates battled through narrow wins against Clark and Whatcom to make the NWAACC finals.
In the semifinal on Saturday, Peninsula and the top-ranked Walla Walla Warriors battled through 90 minutes of regulation, one 10-minute overtime period and eight minutes of another before the Warriors got the game-winner off a free kick by Rocky Snyder, following a foul just outside the penalty box.
"(We) played the right game, played the right positions and we had our opportunity," Chapman said. "We were doing the right stuff and Walla Walla was doing the right stuff."
The coach praised keeper Jase Hall, who had a strong game and got good play from his teammates at both ends.
While Walla Walla went on to beat Chemeketa 3-2 in the finals for the NWAACC title, Peninsula came back to Tukwila's Starfire complex to play Spokane in the consolation third/fourth-place game. Peninsula's all-time goal scoring leader Ernest Boham had two one-on-one opportunities against the Sasquatch keeper but wasn't able to convert. Unfortunately for the Pirates and Peninsula fans, Sasquatch midfielder Adam Zakrzewski was able to convert at 70 minutes on another tough free kick for a 1-0 Spokane victory.
Chapman said, for the most part, the Pirates were in good spirits after the two games.
"I think they did leave a mark. They did leave their name in the school history book," Chapman said. "The guys are disappointed they didn't get to play in that championship game, but they know that they were close."
Peninsula will lose just five sophomores to graduation, including Boham, Hugo Vasquez, Teagan Cambier, Sean Gaskins and Buck Kunz, all major contributors to the first two Pirate teams to make the NWAACC final four.