In a season of superlatives, it seems it could only end this way for the Pirate men.
Sophomore Alex Martinez broke a scoreless tie in stoppage time, ripping a scorching line drive through the Clark defense for the NWAACC championship game’s only score and yet another championship for Peninsula College.
The score and 1-0 victory at Tukwila’s Starfire Sports Complex on Sunday gives P.C.’s men their third title in four years.
Martinez, who tied Miguel Gonzalez for most goals in school history with 49, earned his second tournament MVP in as many seasons.
“Wow — what a great weekend,” Peninsula coach Andrew Chapman said. “Clark played a great physical game. They came out to win and that pushed us to fight more. We didn’t play a very inspired first half but our guys knew they could do better and went out and proved it.”
While the Pirates worked to break through the Clark defense, P.C. goalkeeper Angel Guerra was keeping the net clean on the Pirate end, earning nine saves — including a crucial stop with just seconds left — to earn his 12th shutout of the season.
With both teams eyeing overtime, Peninsula worked the ball deep into Penguin territory. Martinez took a loose ball and ripped a shot that skidded along the artificial turf at Starfire. Clark keeper Johnathan Morales got a hand on it but could not deflect it away.
The shot was reminiscent of Martinez’s goal in 2012, when he dropped a couple of fakes on Walla Walla defenders and pushed the ball past Warrior keeper Daniel Romero for the title game winner.
“I’m really proud of their accomplishments this year,” Clark coach Biniam Afenegus told The Columbian newspaper. “This (Peninsula squad) was a very good team that has dominated everybody. We’re the only ones that have kept them scoreless into stoppage time.”
Peninsula closes the season undefeated with a 21-0-2, the best mark on record for any NWAACC team, Chapman said.
Combined with the Pirate women’s title, Peninsula recorded the first back-to-back soccer championships for men’s and women’s programs in conference history.
Wearing down the Warriors
Peninsula advanced to Sunday’s game with a 2-0 win against Walla Walla on Saturday. Ash Apollon took a header feed from Martinez, worked past three Warrior defenders and netted a score past Warrior keeper Derek Carver in the 22nd minute.
Guerra (two saves) and the P.C. defense held tough throughout, and the Pirates added an insurance score near the final whistle when Erick Urzua found Victor Sanchez, who lofted a shot over Carver for a score.
“Anytime you play a college semifinal game you are going to have a lot of emotion,” Chapman said.