Pirates win wild, wild west
by MICHAEL DASHIELL
With little to do Saturday afternoon but check up on a game dozens of miles away and cheer on P.C.'s women's team, Peninsula's men had plenty of reason to celebrate.
After knocking off Bellevue earlier in the week, the Pirates got some help from division rival Highline. Highline earned a 2-2 draw with Bellevue on Saturday, giving Peninsula the NWAACC West Division championship.
Now the Pirates, who were resting Saturday with a regular season-ending bye, host a second-round NWAACC tournament game at Civic Field at 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 13, against either Pierce or Whatcom.
"That bye is important," Peninsula coach Andrew Chapman said. "That's one (win) and into the final four."
After jumping to a 10-win unbeaten streak and No. 1 ranking to start the season, the Pirates dropped three of their next five games and, until Nov. 3, had won just one game in their past six matches.
"They got complacent," Chapman said of his squad. "They beat Walla Walla and Chemeketa and thought, 'We beat those guys. We're OK.' They kind of stopped competing (but) those three losses caught up with us."
The Pirates shrugged off that bad stretch quickly against Bellevue on Nov. 3, racing to a 3-0 first-half lead and withstood a Bulldog comeback to prevail 3-2.
Miguel Gonzalez scored two goals and assisted on another as the Pirates put themselves in position to take the NWAACC West title.
Gonzalez opened the scoring with a score just three minutes into the game off a feed from Jibril Gude.
Gonzalez set up Lucas Costa for a score at the 32-minute mark, then ripped the net again just two minutes later thanks to a Prince Ash assist.
Bellevue's Race Sciabica scored for the host Bulldogs just before halftime, then added another score with 10 minutes left in the contest.
Three days later, filling the bleachers at Civic Field to support their Peninsula sisters, the Pirate men caught wind of the Highline-Bellevue tie and erupted in cheers.
And while the Pirate women are heading to the playoffs for the first time, the Pirate men have five consecutive playoff berths and two Final Four appearances.
Simply getting to the playoffs this season may not be enough, according to the Pirates' coach.
"We need to be in the championship game," Chapman said. "We've been ranked in the top two all season. We've done some good things but we want to be in the championship."
Lurking in the NWAACC semifinals could be a match-up between Peninsula (No. 2) and Columbia Basin (No. 1).
Peninsula likely will be without sophomore Brent Ricigliano for the first game. Ricigliano needed an emergency appendix removal earlier this month.
Reach Michael Dashiell at email@example.com.