Talk about a gut-check.
At halftime of Sunday afternoon’s NWAACC women’s soccer final in Tukwila, Peninsula’s Pirates found themselves in a rare position: losing to an NWAACC foe.
P.C. coach Kanyon Anderson had some words of wisdom for his top-ranked crew. “We told them: If you get that first (score), you’ll get the second one really quick.”
Anderson’s words proved prophetic as Dominique Niedziela and Larkyn Nelson scored within three minutes of each other, leading the Pirates to a 2-1 victory over Edmonds and back-to-back titles for the first time in the program’s short four-year history.
“We knew Edmonds was a good team,” Anderson said. “If we play well, we don’t have to adjust. They have to adjust to us. We can play with anyone.”
It was Edmonds, however, that came out with a first half lead. At the 40-minute mark Irina Lyons — former prep star at Port Townsend — netted an unassisted goal.
“I don’t think we took the first half as seriously as we could have,” Niedziela said.
“If we don’t win 50-50 balls, we lose,” sophomore defender Shelbi Vienna-Hallam said. “The first half we reacted to how they played. The second half, we had nothing to lose.”
That 1-0 Edmonds lead lasted until Bri Afoa — last year’s tourney MVP and Player of the Year — found Niedziela for the score that knotted the game at 1-1.
Energized, the Pirates moved ahead when Niedziela set up Nelson for the score. From there, keeper Emily Flinn and the Pirate defense did the rest.
The conference’s top-ranked team, Peninsula was behind in only one other NWAACC game in 2013, falling behind Highline 2-1 on Oct. 23 before rebounding for a 3-2 victory.
The Pirates finish the season 20-2-0.
In its four seasons of existence, the Peninsula women’s soccer program has won two NWAACC titles and made three championship game appearances.
Anderson said the Pirates’ sophomore class is something special.
“It’s a great class — I think we’re going to send a lot (of players) on to D-I and D-II schools,” he said. “It just speaks to how hard they’ve worked.”
Getting by Walla Walla
Peninsula advanced to the semifinals with a 2-0 win against Walla Walla Saturday afternoon at Tukwila’s Starfire Sports Complex, though they lost one of their top players in the process.
At the 15-minute mark, P.C.’s Bronte Fitzsimmons lofted a ball across the box and Niedziela tapped it in far post for a 1-0 Peninsula lead. Just three minutes later, Fitzsimmons then collected a ball about 40 yards out, dribbled past two Warrior defenders and netted another score.
But Fitzsimmons, a sophomore forward form Victoria, B.C., earned a red card about five minutes into the second half, keeping her from the title game one day later.
Despite playing 11-on-10 for most of the second half, Walla Walla never mounted a serious threat. Flinn had three saves.