Kanari Zhaccierra Fr. F Perth, Australia
By MICHAEL DASHIELL
When second-year head coach Kanyon Anderson made his recruiting trips this off-season, it must have been an easier sell than a year before.
In Peninsula College’s inaugural women’s soccer campaign, Anderson and 15 freshmen battled to a 6-4-6 mark in the West Division, capturing second place and qualifying for the NWAACC tournament.
Add to that a brand-spanking-new $1.5 million artificial field turf that’s shared by the NWAACC champion Pirate men and the infant program has instant credibility.
That’s what has the Pirates optimistic for their second season. After scrounging up players in their first season, the Pirates have 25 on the roster, including a number of newbies with high school state titles on their resumes and eight key returnees that give the Pirates unprecedented depth for a second-year program.
“To have players with so much playing time (is nice),” Anderson said. “They were asked to be sophomores, mentally.”
Back is all-star midfielder Jackie Rodgers, a Des Moines native who led the team in assists with six and tied for the team lead in goals (five).
While Rodgers leads with her play, returning sophomore Jessica Farrell leads with her play and her voice. The native of Wasilla, Alaska, was the Pirates’ field general and shared the team lead in scoring with Rodgers.
“She is really the vocal leader (of the team),” Anderson said.
Also back is Okanagan native Ellen Rodgers, who had a score and four assists. She and Kimmy Jones (three goals in 2010) team up with Jackie Rodgers and Tabitha Bare to create a formidable midfield.
Sophomore Felicia Collins looks to shore up the defense from her center midfield position.
Anderson and the Pirates have the luxury of two goalkeepers who racked up plenty of playing time. Starter Ashley Manker and the versatile Krystal Daniels shared time between the posts last year and figure to do the same in 2011. Daniels secured two of the Pirates’ three shutouts in the last campaign.
When setting out to recruit for the Pirates’ second campaign, Anderson and company eyed size, athleticism and experience of playing at high levels.
“In a couple of games (last season), the physical battle wore us down,” Anderson said. “The other part is we needed more players who are more confident on the ball.”
The Pirates also recruited players with a good amount of success at state tournaments and players at smaller schools who dominated their leagues.
Key newcomers include Alaska natives Kendra Miner and Shelby Solomon. Miner scored 14 goals and added eight assists, leading the Class 4A Wasilla girls to a sixth-place finish at the Alaska State Soccer Tournament. The senior striker was her team’s most valuable player, she qualified for All-Region and All-State teams, and she finished her career with 28 goals.
Solomon, a transfer from Western Oregon, was a four-year varsity starter for West Valley High School and she was captain of her club team that won two Alaska state championships.
Sydney Bullington is a rookie striker from Montesano who was a Class-A All-State selection and an Evergreen League most valuable player.
Morgan Atchley of Ridgefield was a first team all-Greater St. Helens League player and scored 27 goals her senior year, leading Ridgefield to a district championship and state playoff appearance.
Emilia Stefanko set the all-time scoring record for Cascade High School in Leavenworth with 66 goals and 45 assists, and once scored six goals in one game.
Deidra Woodward of Olympia led her Olympia High School team in goals and assists and earned first team all-league honors in the 4A South Puget Sound League.
Other key recruits include Kahli Fagg of Brisbane — one of four Australians on the P.C. roster — along with Kelsey Ng of Waipahu, Hawaii, and Kelsey Lenherr of Tumwater.
“We are much more talented than we were last year,” Anderson said.
The Pirates only improved as they adjusted to NWAACC foes and each other in 2010. In the second round of play against West Division foes, Peninsula was 3-0-2 — their longest unbeaten streak of the campaign.
On the final day of the season, a win against Green River vaulted P.C. from fourth place to second, giving them a home game in the first round of the NWAACC tournament.
That’s when they ran into the buzz saw that was Spokane, or more specifically, Lateashea Currie.
The Sasquatch scoring star had 27 goals in 2010 — just seven off of the storied Spokane program’s career record for two seasons — and tallied three in Spokane’s 5-0 victory against Peninsula, ending the Pirates’ season.
“They had a goal-scorer we didn’t have.” Anderson said.
Pirate coaches figure they have plenty of scoring options now. As for expectations for the second-year program, Anderson said they are quite high.
“Based on what we did last year, we expect to win the West (and) we want to win a title,” he said.