They needed penalty kicks to win it, but Peninsula College’s 2010 men’s soccer squad captured the school’s first NWAACC soccer title in school history last November.
Now, the Pirates have a new moniker: defending champs.
“We had programs that were kind of targeting us after what we’d done the past couple of years,” says P.C. head coach Andrew Chapman, who has led the Pirates to six consecutive playoff berths.
“Now, with what we did last year, all 19 NWAACC teams are gunning for us,” he says. “It’s going to be interesting, something new for us. We’re usually chasing someone else down.”
Yes, but can the rest of the NWAACC catch the Pirates? Despite losing a few key starters on defense and up front, several key pieces are intact from the championship squad, including NWAACC tourney MVP goalkeeper Jared Wilson and xxxx region MVP Miguel Gonzalez.
“We need to stay healthy,” Chapman says. “The drive of these guys to want to win it (is going to mean a lot), but it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to win games. If we stay healthy, who knows.”
The Pirates see 18 returnees from last year’s squad, highlighted by the two MVPs.
Wilson tallied an NWAACC-leading seven shutouts and 63 saves in 2010. He stepped it up even more in the NWAACC tourney, allowing just one score and making a key block in the penalty-kick win against Highline.
“Jared’s always a presence back there,” Chapman says.
Gonzalez racked up team-highs with 15 goals — a school record for a single season — and four assists for last year’s squad.
Chapman says key returnees include Jeff Mullen and Port Angeles native Dustin Walsh to secure the center back positions, along with Anthony Aguilar.
Yan Gioseffi, who played sparingly last fall but did record the championship-winning penalty kick goal, has moved up the starting 11 and is team captain.
Also back is sophomore midfielder Brian Holguin, who had two scores and three assists.
The Pirates seek to rebuild a bit after losing key players Tyler Hindmarch (five goals, second on the team), Patrick Wolverton (four goals), Lucas Costa (three) Aaron Oppeltz, and Jabril Gude from the 2010 squad.
But Peninsula has some solid recruits already making a difference in early-season practices. Daniel Gonzalez, brother of Pirate star Miguel, is an attacking center midfielder who figures to apply plenty of pressure on opponents.
“He’s more of a playmaker who gets back to defend, than (one of those) go-forward type guys,” Chapman says.
Chapman says Peninsula fans will notice key additions such as strikers Dean Gaynor and (when healthy) Sergio Carletto. Midfielders Tyrone Warren, a South African player who comes to Peninsula via Australia, should impress with his speed, coaches say, and Omar Ambrocio, cousin of former Peninsula College star Huga Vasquez, is another highly regarded rookie.
“We needed to get a little more of a playmaker in the middle and … another striker or two up front,” Chapman says.
Peninsula fans may notice a distinct international flavor to the roster, as 11 of the 27 Pirates on the starting roster are from overseas. While NWAACC rules don’t allow coaches to recruit these players, Chapman says it was “nice to hear from one or two of them.”
International players, he says, bring different styles to the pitch and can give Peninsula’s approach a different look.
If the Pirates were looking for a breakthrough last fall after five playoff appearances in five years, they certainly got it.
The P.C. men earned their first No. 1 ranking in school history and were 8-0-2 before their first loss, a 1-0 defeat to division rival Highline on Oct. 6.
Three weeks later, Highline dropped Peninsula 1-0 again, the Pirates’ third loss in that span.
It was the last time they’d lose. The Pirates topped Bellevue 3-2 on the season’s final day to capture the West Division crown, then edged Whatcom 2-1 in the NWAACC quarterfinals. Peninsula got by Columbia Basin 1-0 in the semifinals, thanks to a Gonzalez score 70 minutes in. The championship was even better, as Peninsula and division rival Highline battled to a scoreless tie for 110 minutes and still couldn’t decide a winner after eight penalty kicks.
A key save by Wilson, who was named tournament MVP, set up Gioseffi’s game-winner. It gave Peninsula College its first NWAACC champion in 40 years, and the school’s first soccer title.
Peninsula finished 13-3-4, and Chapman was later named NWAACC Coach of the Year.
Reach Michael Dashiell at email@example.com.