By Lee Horton
Peninsula Daily News
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This is the first time in school history that both soccer teams are ranked No. 1.
The Pirate women remain perfect on the year after shading fellow powerhouse Spokane 3-2 at Wally Sigmar Field on Saturday.
They are 6-0-0 in the NWAACC West Division and 12-0-0 overall.
The rankings come on the heels of great 2011 seasons by both programs — or in the men’s team’s case, a string of multiple great seasons.
And both teams are being reminded that the fruits of success extend to subsequent seasons, manifested by an increase in talented profile recruits looking at the Pirates as a springboard to higher levels of soccer.
So far this year, those new arrivals have made mixing in with the returning players and learning a new system look easy.
Kanyon Anderson loaded up this offseason.
A 17-3-3 finish in 2011, only the second year of the program, made the Peninsula College women’s soccer team more attractive to higher skill level players.
Anderson welcomed the influx of talent.
The newcomers combine with the 11 returnees to give the Pirates the most talent they have ever had.
It also makes their practices more competitive than ever.
“We have a bigger roster than anybody,” Anderson said.
“The players coming in knew it was going to be competitive.
“They all wanted it. Not one player walked away.”
Anderson said the competition and increase talent have a few benefits.
First, it forces each player to work hard and perform every single day because there are skilled players looking to secure more playing time.
“There’s a clear reality for the players that there are good players that want to take their places,” Anderson said.
Another benefit of the large, competitive roster is it makes practices more effective.
“We have never trained as hard as we do now,” Anderson said.
He noted that the Pirates can play 11-on-11 every day.
With the increase in talent, that means practices more closely resemble games.
All this has allowed Peninsula to live up to last season’s success.
And then some.
“I think we might be better than we were last year,” Anderson said.
The newcomers also allow the Pirates to be more aggressive on offense.
“We went after players with a goal-scoring knack,” Anderson said.
“You can’t coach that.”
It has already paid off. In 12 matches this season, the Pirates have scored 67 goals — by far tops in the NWAACC.
Briana Afoa, a striker from Hawaii, has been leading the offensive charge.
Afoa notched a hat trick in her first game as a Pirate. On the season, she has seven goals and one assist.
Other promising newcomers are midfielder Annie Armstrong from Olympia and center back Dominique Niedziela.
The center back is one of the most intense position battles, with Niedziela, Misty Kaiwi, Mellisa Delgado and Miranda Sochacki all vying for time.
One of the most important holdovers from 2011 is goalkeeper Denae Brooks, who has already recorded five shutouts this season.
Returning outside backs Ashlynn Frizell and Aubrey Briscow have helped protect the goal, despite the increased emphasis on scoring.
“They’re a big part of why we can be so aggressive,” Anderson said.
If last year’s runner-up finish wasn’t enough to do so already, the dominant start to 2012 has forced the NWAACC to recognize Peninsula College as a championship contender.
“We’re the monsters in everybody’s closet,” Anderson said.
“A lot of people are circling us [on their schedules].
“I mean, I would.”
The Peninsula College men’s team continues to roll along in head coach Andrew Chapman’s 10th season at the helm.
Chapman has built a program that won only once in his first year into a powerhouse that is a fixture in the NWAACC postseason.
It looks like this year will be more of the same.
Behind a balanced attack, the Pirates have jumped out to an 11-1 overall record, with the only loss coming in a game in which an early red card put them a man down for a large chunk of the game.
They are 4-0-0 in the West Division.
Peninsula tops the NWAACC in both goals scored with 54 and goals against with just five.
The offense has been paced by a mix of returnees and newcomers.
Sophomore Daniel Gonzalez is raked in the top five in the NWAACC in goals (eight) and assists (five).
After his hat trick Saturday against Spokane, freshman Alex Martinez is second in the conference in goals with seven.
Henrique Noujeimi, another freshman, has nine goals for the Pirates.
Freshmen Erick Urzua is tops in assists, and Yoshi Tamukai is third.
“We have very, very talented freshmen,” Chapman said.
Two of those freshmen, Noujeimi and Mark Cottrell, are both older.
Chapman said this gives them added maturity, which helps counteract the team’s youth.
The youth is also helped by the solid play of returning players Omar Ambrocio-Vasquez, Aaron Jeffery, Parker Vacura and goalkeeper Guilherme Avelar.
Avelar and Angel Guerra have combined to give the Pirates strong goal tending.
With this collection of talent, Chapman’s only concern is making it through the season without being bit by the injury bug.
“We expect to do well,” Chapman said.
“Hopefully, we can stay healthy.”
Both Pirates squads look to maintain their roll through the NWAACC when they host Tacoma Community College on Wednesday.
The women play at 2 p.m. and the men start at 4 p.m. at Wally Sigmar Field.