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TUKWILA — It will be a day that goes down in Peninsula College sports history.
The Pirate women beat Spokane in a nail-biting shootout to become the first Peninsula women’s sports team to win a Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges championship.
Then two hours later, while rain drops were still dripping from the women’s trophy, the Pirate men rallied for a late goal to defeat Walla Walla in a 1-0 heart-stopper to set off a second Peninsula College celebration as fans gathered on the field for a second trophy presentation as the players from the two Pirate teams hugged, cheered and posed for photos.
Peninsula became the first college since 1999 to capture women’s and men’s soccer championships in the same season, both coming on thrilling wins Sunday night at the NWAACC Final Four in a stormy Starfire Sports Complex.
“What an amazing night,” Peninsula athletic director Rick Ross said.
“So many things have to come together to win a championship. It was a special time for our athletes, our coaches and all our fans who braved the weather to be there. I’ll never forget it.”
It also was a pretty special night for women’s athletics.
“I’m thrilled for both programs,” Ross said, “but I’m especially happy for our women, who broke through to do something our intercollegiate women’s teams have been trying to do since we re-started athletics here at Peninsula in 1997.
“The players involved in that win Sunday may not fully understand what they did, but their championship honors all of those teams, and all of the women, people like our women’s athletic commissioner Kathy Murphy-Carey, who toiled to promote women’s sports in the shadow of men’s teams back in the 1960s and 1970s.
“It will be pretty special to hang our first women’s championship banner in the gym and on the field.
“I couldn’t be happier.”
Peninsula freshman Briana Afoa was named the MVP of the women’s tournament while Pirate freshman Alex Martinez was the MVP of the men’s tourney.
It was the second title in three years for the Pirate men.
Both teams survived very physical championship games with the men blanking Walla Walla 1-0 despite losing their best player late in the game, while the women held off Spokane 2-1 in a shootout after the teams tied 1-1 through regulation and overtime.
The Peninsula teams were ranked No. 1 in NWAACC most of the year and top 11 in the country.
They proved they belong there, even though it wasn’t easy going in the championship matches.
The Pirate men finished the season 22-1-1 overall, the second year of concluding the year with just one loss.
It is also the second consecutive season that the Pirates have been ranked No. 1 in NWAACC from the preseason polls all the way to the end of the season.
After beating Highline for the NWAACC crown in 2010, the Pirates went undefeated in 2011 before losing in the NWAACC semifinals.
There would be no repeat of that semifinal loss this year as the Pirates shut out Edmonds 2-0 in the semifinals Saturday at Starfire Complex.
In Sunday’s title game, freshman striker Martinez — who had a standout Final Four tournament with two goals and an assist — scored the winning goal against Walla Walla with 3 minutes to go in the game on a Daniel Gonzalez assist.
“Alex’s goal was a great individual effort,” Peninsula coach Andrew Chapman said.
Martinez took the pass from Gonzalez and took the ball into the box where he got the defense going one way while he went the other and put the goal in the bak of the net.
Not only did the Pirates go the year ranked No. 1 in NWAACC, but they also made it to No. 11 in the national poll.
“I’m very proud of the guys,” Chapman said. “They have worked very hard, and they deserved it.”
Peninsula sophomore goalkeeper Guilherme Avelar earned the shutout, his 11th of the year.
Avelar also shared two other shutouts and holds the school record for shutouts in a season.
Let’s get physical
It was a physical weekend for the men’s team.
Zak Naylor of Edmonds received two yellow cards and a red card in the semifinal game, and then Walla Walla and Peninsula had two yellow cards each and a red-card ejection apiece in the title contest.
“It’s always physical,” Chapman said about Final Four weekends.
Peninsula’s Jake Forrester and Walla Walla’s Daniel Romero received a yellow card each while Gonzalez and Walla Walla’s Connor Cravens were given red-card fighting ejections after a face-off coming about a minute after Gonzalez dished out the assist to Martinez.
Gonzalez was selected as the NWAACC West Division player of the year just last week.
The Pirates, who went 12-0-1 in conference play and tied with the best NWAACC record with Clark College of Vancouver, Wash., will lose six sophomores from this championship team.
That group includes Gonzalez and Avelar.
The Peninsula women captured their first NWAACC title after losing in the 2011 championship game to three-time champion Walla Walla.
The Pirates finish the 2012 year at 22-1-1 overall and 15-1-0 in conference, by far the best NWAACC record.
They were ranked No. 1 in NWAACC and No. 10 in the country.
The Pirates ripped Everett 3-1 in the semifinals but had their hands full with fellow powerhouse Spokane in the championship game.
Like the men, the Pirate women had a tough physical game in Sunday’s final.
“It was a very physical game but championship games are like that because they are emotional,” coach Kanyon Anderson said.
“People are throwing their bodies into things.”
Peninsula’s Kendra Miner and Deidra Woodward received a yellow card each while Spokane’s Laura Seymour was ejected with a red card in regulation.
That meant that the Sasquatch had to play with one less player for the final 10 minutes of regulation and through the overtime period.
But Spokane was able to keep the Pirates out of the goal during that time to get the game to a penalty-kick shootout.
“They went defensive [after receiving the red card],” Anderson said.
The Sasquatch started the game with two strikers but ended the game with only one striker, putting everybody else in back to keep Peninsula from scoring.
“I don’t know but I assume Spokane just wanted to get the game to penalty kicks,” Anderson said.
That would make the playing field a little more level in Spokane’s view because both teams would have the same amount of players making penalty kicks.
But Anderson knew that the Pirates would have the advantage in that situation.
“I knew we would win a shootout because of [goalkeeper] Denae Brooks,” Anderson said.
And sure enough, Brooks made two outstanding diving saves as the Pirates won the shootout 3-2.
Making the shootout goals for Peninsula were West Division player of the year Afoa, left-footed Sydney Bullington and Shelbi Vienna-Hallam.
But the key was the play of Brooks in the goal.
“Denae Brooks is exceptional at penalty kicks,” Anderson said.
“I have never seen a female soccer goalkeeper saving goals at the rate she does.
“She’s quick and she has long arms.”
Brooks has eight shutouts on the season, tied for third in NWAACC.
Spokane got on the scoreboard first on a penalty kick by Gaby Kennedy at 16 minutes.
The score was 1-0 at halftime but Anderson wasn’t worried.
“I knew that we could get at least one goal in the second half,” he said.
That’s because the Pirates were dominating pressure on the goal with eight corner kicks to Spokane’s two, and just missing a couple of good opportunities.
And one of those came from Afoa, who had two goals in the semifinals and a school-record 23 goals on the season.
“Briana Afoa missed an easy shot she doesn’t normally miss,” Anderson said.
Peninsula’s equalizing goal came at 60 minutes.
Afoa took a penalty shot and got it over the wall of Spokane players and over the goalkeeper’s head but the ball hit the crossbar and came straight down in front of the goal.
Miner was right there, though, for Peninsula and she put her body into it, nudging the ball 2 feet into the back of the net.
“It seems like she really played that well,” Anderson said.
“It wasn’t a lucky shot. She was in great position, and she used the front of her body to push the ball into the goal.”
Losing 12 sophomores
The Pirates, playing in the championship game the second year in a row, will lose six starters and 12 players from this team.
“We had an outstanding sophomore class,” Anderson said.
Peninsula went 40-4-3 the past two years.
“We will definitely be a different team next year,” Anderson said.
But that’s not to say the Pirates won’t be stellar again in 2013.
After all, Afoa is just a freshman and her scoring touch will be back.
The Pirates will have two starting center-backs, two starting central midfielders coming back along with the one starting striker.
“We will still be pretty strong,” Anderson said.
“And we have a lot of players ready to take over starting roles.”
Anderson will take a short break off from recruiting and then get back on the recruiting trail.
He said he expects to have several players ready to sign up on official letter-of-intent day in January.
Meanwhile, both the men’s and women’s soccer teams plan to bask in the glory of NWAACC championships.